Theater Review: 'Oklahoma!'

The real strength of the production is in the lead actors, who are one and all superb.

Theater Review 88 (photo credit: )
Theater Review 88
(photo credit: )
Oklahoma! By Rodgers & Hammerstein Performed by Encore! Beit Shmuel Jerusalem June 1 This month, Jerusalem theater-goers can experience the lighthearted fun of the Broadway classic Oklahoma!, which offers a family-friendly gamut of romance, comedy and the colorful spectacle of twirling Southern belles. And of course, the music, which is by now inextricably woven into the cultural fabric of America. The opening night performance on June 1 was electric, with an enthusiasm generated by the cast and audience that can only happen when the production is a labor of love. The well-crafted set design, with its archetypal windmill and fields of corn, evokes nostalgia for a simpler time in history. But the real strength of the production is in the lead actors, who are one and all superb. The two romantic leads of Curly and Laurey are played to perfection by Kendell Pinkney and Aviella Trapido, the latter of whom has already showcased her prodigious talents in a number of local productions. Pinkney, for his part, steals every scene he is in, exhibiting a powerful charisma and presence. A counterpoint to the sunshine and rolling fields is the character of Jud Fry, who stalks on the sidelines for much of the time and whose obsession with Laurey borders on the disturbing. Jud is one dark note in the musical, standing for the unacknowledged violence in a society that is otherwise mostly concerned with courting, crops and box socials. Chuck King delivers a performance of Jud that is complex, even touching, so that it's impossible to hate him without also feeling sorry for him. But that is serious stuff, and most of Oklahoma! is entertainingly funny, with much of the comedy coming from the womanizing Persian peddler Ali Hakim - played with brilliant comic timing by Tomer Perry - and the romance between the flighty Ado Annie (Lauren Phillips/Lucy Roth) and her devoted fiancé Will Parker (Daniel Pedersen). With the hilarious love triangle that ensues, the musical begins on a light note, and is for the most part held there, until the requisite happy ending.