Paul Tarrant Reports
It was a beautiful, bright and breezy morning as the small, but tightly controlled band struck up the overture for Thurrock Operatic Society’s production of Oklahoma! Alan Watts as Musical Director set the pace which rarely flagged during this admittedly lengthy show.
Ann Sullivan was at her directorial best with this old favourite. Imaginative set changes by the cast and costumed backstage staff, together with smooth and fluent settings made for a comfortable surrey ride through the evening.
Strong performances were in evidence from principals and chorus alike.
Comedy honours go to Matthew Capp and Victoria McKenzie as Will Parker and Ado Annie. Matthew used his improving tenor voice to good effect and both showed a strong sense of comedy timing, milking every opportunity that the script afforded for audience laughs. They were ably assisted by Matthew Burman as Ali Hakim, all three contributing strongly to the funniest moments.
Rebecca Huish as Laurey sang sweetly and looked perfect as the feisty farm girl in love with Curly but unwilling to admit it. She is clearly a talent to watch as her performance was strong for one so young; she is learning and will understand that she can give an even bigger acting performance and thus be even more successful.
Opposite Rebecca, in the lead role of Curly was Sean Quigley. Having seen his strong performance in Fiddler on the Roof, I was expecting much. This was a thoughtful and well acted performance. Good use of pauses and inflection contributed to a rounded delivery. Accents are always dangerous and Sean needs to be a little careful that a desire for an authentic sound does not mask the clarity of the dialogue.
Vanda Mercer as Aunt Eller was well cast and she gave a strong and funny performance. Gary Sullivan as Andrew Carnes also displayed his comedy talents in a laid back performance. Jud Fry is a difficult part, however, Lloyd Bonson turned the trick of making Jud a sympathetic figure whilst still being clearly the villain of the piece.
The whole company clearly enjoyed the performance. Everyone on stage was engaged in the action and displayed great enthusiasm and pace in the crowd scenes and dance numbers. A sizeable audience obviously enjoyed the evening and demonstrated their approval by long applause at the end.
A good night out and I look forward to the next.