From the moment the band strikes up the overture, the audience knows it’s in for a treat, as Falkirk Operatic Society head for the mid-west of America and a time when farmers and cowboys were still wondering if they could ever be friends.
Few musicals can boast the number of familiar tunes that Oklahoma! does and the band, under musical director Jon-Luke Kirton, start the show as it goes on; bright, energetic, and melodic.
Off-stage a voice sings what has to be one of the most famous songs ever: Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, with Graeme Scott’s Curly in fine voice, his laid-back, charming performance perfectly capturing the likeable, if somewhat conceited, cowboy.
Another voice off-stage – is this time the crystal clear, pure tones of Julia Shaw, who plays the feisty Laurey beautifully.
The strong vocals of the two leads are a key part of the success of the show, which tells the story of the romance blossoming between cowboy and farm girl, despite what they might say to the contrary.
Getting in the way, however, is the malevolent presence of Jud Fry and Tom Keeble is excellent as he broods and glowers across the stage. He too has a fine voice and a highlight has to be his duet with Curly, Poor Jud is Daid, which is very funny as well as a good showcase for their vocal talents.
With romance, comedy and tunes that will stay in your head for days it’s easy to see why Oklahoma! is such a staple of the stage.
Holding it all together is the kindly, sharp as a tack Aunt Eller and Shirley McNulty puts in a fantastic performance.
And what would Oklahoma! be without the comedy gold of Ado Annie (Victoria Daley), Will Parker (Chris Brooks) and Ali Hakim (James Cassidy)?
Not only do they have some great tunes, they’re also great fun and get some of the best lines which receive lots of laughs from the audience.
The supporting cast has plenty to do and the director Judy Brown keeps the show ticking along, with a real community feel being created by the excellent ensemble in numbers such as The Farmer and the Cowman.
The highlight of the show, prompting cheers from the delighted audience, was the famous title number, the well-known tune providing a rousing chorus, with a fantastic blend of harmonies and rhythm.
l Oklahoma! is on at Falkirk Town Hall until Saturday. Call 01324 506850 for tickets.
Curly, Graeme Scott; Laurey, Julia Shaw; Aunt Eller, Shirley McNulty; Will Parker, Chris Brooks; Jud Fry, Tom Keeble; Ado Annie, Victoria Daley; Andrew Carnes, Malcolm McNulty; Ali Hakim, James Cassidy; Gertie Cummings, Amy Sutherland; Ike Skidmore, Eric Brown; Ellen, Lauren Nimmo; Kate, Carol Sutherland; Sylvie, Susan McFarlane; Vivian, Nikki Johnstone; Virginia, Elizabeth Donald; Cord Elam, Graham Angus; Fred, Ronnie Honey; Mike, Ally Brown; Slim, Jim Porter; Joe, Grant-Scott Johnson.
Jeni Adamson, Diane Brisbane, Hazel Brooks, Niamh Brooks, Helen Brown, Margaret Brown, Elaine Dawson, Marion Dixon, Carolyn Fraser, Hannah Gillies, Victoria Gillies, Chris Hogg, Jennifer Hughes, Sheena Keeble, Ashleigh Maitland, Marianne Marshall, Robin Marshall, Carmen McPhail, Siobhan Murray, Larry Phillips, Darren Tasker, Catriona Turk, Robert Wardrop, Adele Williamson, Elizabeth Woodford.
MD & Keyboard, John-Luke Kirton; Keyboard, Dot Allan; Trombone, John Paterson; Trumpet 1, Alistair Neally; Trumpet 2, Jack MacKenzie; Violin 1, Chloe Kirton; Violin 2, Robert Mingus; Woodwind, Patsy Thomas and Crawford Moyes; Percussion, Matt Arnott.