By Alan Hustak on March 21, 2013

I won’t throw bouquets or sigh and gaze too much, nor will I praise its charms too much.  People might think I liked the Hudson Village Theatre’s revival of the Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! And they would be right – I  am head over heels in admiration of the intimacy and the ingenuity of the amateur production of this rousing musical, which was mounted on a stage no bigger than a postage stamp. (Complete with the ballet dream sequence.)  Because the theatre in an old train station is so small the romantic atmosphere of the story was in fact, somehow subtly deepend. 

Ocklahoma_Stefania_Vetere.jpgThe musical score is, of course, indestructible. The energetic cast and chorus made the most of the pleasing, artful tunes. In addition, the ensemble of different ages, shapes and ethnic backgrounds, contributed to the feel of the frontier community inherent in the story of blossoming love which is set in the Oklahoma territory in 1906, 

This production directed by Glen Bowser and Karen Cromar, succeeds, in large part because of its talented leads.  Jordan Marchand and Stefania Vetere are perfectly matched as the lovestruck couple, Curly and Laurey. From the moment Marchand smiles his killer grin and breaks into Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, he is a charismatic stage presence.  Vetere is a charming foil; the chemistry between the two works perfectly, especially in the beautifully sung People Will Say We’re in Love. 

Simon Cote as Laurie’s unwanted suitor, Jud Fry manages to bring a degree of sympathy to the role of the creepy, obviously depraved farmhand. In the other three-way rivalry that animates the show, Nathaniel Villanueva infused the role of Ali Hakim, the sweet-talking travelling salesman with broad comic gestures. He was well paired with Dominque Thornhill’s vigourous portrayal of the fickle Ado (I’m Just a Girl Who cain’t say No) Annie. Mike Melino, as the devoted Will (Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City) Parker succeeds as being both jaunty and earnest at the same time.

Special mention must go to Gail Marchand’s robust Aunt Ellen, Shannon Marchand’s over the top giggly Gertie Cummings, John Wilson as judge Andrew Carnes and to Justin Muniz and Dan Wheeler as  making their stage debuts as Slim and Cord Elam.

The dream sequence, choreographed by Helene Robitaille, was exceptionally well staged and danced by ballerina Alannagh Macciw (the night I saw the show) who alternated with Laura Delgesso.  

Oklahoma_Jordan_Marchand.jpgJean-Claude Olivier’s flimsy set with its painted backdrops and sparce props added to the makeshift charm of the production. The space is, however, much too small to disguise women as men, you can’t hide clumsy steps in some of the dance routines and there were a few too many cowboy hats around  for my liking – in fact, I suspect Curly was so attached to his I wondered if he slept with it.  That, however didn’t detract from the artful melodies, the spirited cast, or from the overall endearing charm of one happy hoedown. Once again, the Hudson Village Theatre has demonstrated that bigger isn’t necessarily better. 



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