They seemed angry, thus I nicknamed this Angry!Oklahoma. My friends and I went to see it tonight; none of us have seen any other productions of this show. We know some of the songs and I read the plot summary on Wikipedia. And my reaction to said plot summary was: “What?!! What is this? Why is this considered a musical theater classic?”
This production, on at Circle in the Square Theatre, is in a small theater in the semi-round. It was very brightly lit.
The performers were excellent, though I kind of thought they weren’t very loudly microphoned up. You can hear everything in that theater–a cell phone went off one measure into the first song and Damon Daunno, who played Curly McLain, held off on the rest of the song until the phone was silenced. Chairs creaking, candy wrappers being unwrapped, people coughing–you can hear it all.
The performers were really fantastic, especially Ali Stroker who plays Ado Annie and won a Tony Award for this performance. She was wonderful. Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey was wonderful, too.
But the actual plot and the characters are…I don’t know, unsettling? Laurey is caught between a guy she likes but is hesitant about (Curly, who starts out really charming in some very nice chaps and jeans, but is kind of a dick?) and a guy who likes her but whom Laurey finds creepy (Jud. By the way, is Jud ALWAYS this creepy?)
(Our answer: Laurey girl, get yourself some friends and ignore the men they are alllll problematic)
There were two scenes where the lights were completely shut off, so we were sitting in the pitch dark while Curly and Jud are talking about suicide and funerals and then the lights came on and there’s a screen in the back and a cast member was holding a GoPro which was on a verryyyy tight close up of Curly and Jud being verrryyy close (Is that the subtext? Do they want to make out?). And then there were some stage guns shot off, which made everyone jump and gasp.
And scene two with the lights shut off, something happened with Laurey and Jud. And then there was a ten minute long ballet to start Act Two (the dancer was fantastic, by the way). And then there was a general dance (fun!) and then things got weird and ended…even weirder. Like, I have not digested this show yet, so I’m not sure what to make of it.
From reading the summary, I noticed this show changed a few things at the end. It was tonal whiplash and I’m just, like, not sure how to parse out my impressions on this show.