People will say they’re in love, with OU Musical Theatre’s Production of Oklahoma!

By Erin Ben-Moche

Oklahoma opened to the public Oct. 7, in the Stage Theatre at Varner Hall.

Fred Love directed the show, with choreography by OU musical theatre alumni Stacey Flemming, and musical direction by Alissa Hetzner.  The original music, story and lyrics are by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

For those unfamiliar with the classic play, the story follows the relationship between the dashing cowboy Curly McLain (Garrett Markgraf and Mitchell Aiello) and the innocent farm girl Laurey Williams (Emily Hadick and Emma Griffith.)

The young love becomes complicated when a creepy farmer Jud Fry, (David Bashaw) fights for Laurey’s attention. The show also focuses on the rivalry between the farmers and cowmen during the early settlement of the new America.

During rehearsals, the actors researched their characters in depth in order to master their roles.

Brendan Lindberg, who plays the comical Will Parker, said he prepared for the role by watching old western videos in order to become a cowboy.

“It was also beneficial to take dance classes outside of rehearsal so I could apply it to my character who does do a lot of dancing,” Lindberg said.

The show itself did not disappoint and began with a beautiful ballet overture choreographed by OU alum Stacey Flemming.

Flemmings explained that the routine represents how things were in Oklahoma when Curly and Laurey were first meeting. They were young and in love, completely unaware of the farmer/cowboy conflict going on around them.

The detailed costumes and makeup including cowboy boots, bandanas quilted skirts and flowery hats quickly pulled the audience into the culture of the small town.

The actors had great chemistry on stage. The hilarious love triangle between Ado Annie (Alissa Beth Morton), Will Parker, and con man Ali Hakim (Pablo Calada) worked well together to make sure the audience was always laughing. Emily Hadick and Garrett Markgraf made the audience fall in love the minute both set stage together.

The surprising and memorable performance of the night was when actor David Bashaw took the stage.

Bashaw plays Jud Fry who is supposed to be the main villain, forcing Laurey to be involved with him. Bashaw added layers to the role, allowing the audience to feel bad for the character and seeing something in Jud Fry that the town would never see.

Love enjoyed seeing the cast and crew grow since day one and felt fantastic during each run. He also thought it was very important for at the MT majors to know Oklahoma and have experience in this important Golden Age classic.

Oklahoma was the first collaborative work between Rodgers and Hammerstein. The show became a huge success and it is now remembered as a classic.

He also believes that Oakland University’s Musical Theatre program is just like the first collaboration. 

“I believe we have produced an ‘Oklahoma!’ that would make Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hammerstein proud; all thanks to the brilliant work of our designers, technicians, cast, and crew.”