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July 2004
reviewed by Kate Young in The Isle of Wight County Press 09/07/04
(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight County Press)

OKLAHOMA, as presented by Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, was rather more than OK.

Ruth Lyons Stars as Laurey the girl who is all a-jitter about which man should take her to a social evening and she makes an appealing heroine with a good voice and an enthusiasm for dance.

Tim Coonrod makes a cheerful and loveable Curly McLain, the wholesome cowboy with his heart set on Laurey, while I was astounded by the transformation made by Martyn Stanley, who is a nice guy in real life but is thoroughly wicked as farm-hand Jud Fry.

Claire Fussell steals the show as Aunt Eller, the wise old matriach, while Amber Beard makes an excellent return to the stage as Ado Annie Carnes, following a break of 18 years.

Steven Young makes a likeable Will Parker, although he could occasionally do with a touch more volume, while Bob French is comical as hapless peddlar Ali Hakim. Chris White makes a splash as Gertie Cummings with the funny laugh and Peter Maddock stars as Ado Annie's gun-wielding dad, Andrew Carnes.

There are around 25 other cast and chorus members who make for a very lively show with plenty of singing and dancing.

The choreography by Ruth Lyons is excellent throughout and I particularly liked the dream scene with Jud's sexy dancers.

The show, directed by Daphne Brown, features well-built sets and realistic props, including a genuine Western saddle and a beautiful set of "surry wheels."

The orchestra, under the directorship of Chris Ely, sounded great and were all dressed in checked shirts for the part.
Praise too for the balance between the music and the singing - it was so nice to see an am-dram production where the principal cast were not miked up but could still be heard clearly above the music.

If you haven't seen this lively and enjoyable musical yet, there are performances at Trinity Theatre, Cowes, tonight (Friday) and tomorrow.



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