Against the odds, frontier folk find love on the range

`Oklahoma!': Students at River Hill High School stage a stirring production of the classic musical.


March 11, 2004|By Tyler Baldwin | Tyler Baldwin,LONG REACH HIGH SCHOOL

From the first note of the overture to the last note of the finale, River Hill High School's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! was a sensation.

A cast of gifted actors kept the audience laughing and the mood up in a performance last week. Oklahoma! is a classic American musical, rich with familiar songs and interesting characters.

The play opens with Curly McLain (Andrew Boetcher) coming to charm a farmer's daughter, Laurey Williams (Gloria Makino), but Curly runs into Eller Murphy, Laurey's aunt (Megan Jeffrey) first. Curly hopes to ask Laurey to the box social that night, but she turns him down. The next scene introduces another pair of lovers, Will Parker and Ado Annie Carnes.

Will (Alex Fast), a cowboy, had been in Kansas City trying to get $50 so he could marry his sweetheart, Ado Annie (Steffi Haaser). Ado Annie, though, thinks she has fallen in love with Ali Hakim (David Mekelburg), a traveling "Prussian" peddler. Then we meet Jud Fry (Andrew Dodson), a farm hand for Laurey, who also loves her. Laurey does not like Jud but goes to the box social with him.

Mixed into the story line were well-crafted musical numbers and an impressive ballet scene. Highlights included Haaser's "I Can't Say No," Boetcher and Dodson's comic duet, "Poor Jud is Daid," and the choreography behind the solo "Kansas City."

Although some in the ensemble lacked energy at times, together they were in tune and clear. But occasionally, the ensemble was louder than the actors' speaking. The set changes were smooth and quick, and the light cues were on time.

Among the lead characters, Jeffrey (Aunt Eller Murphy) was a wonderful character to watch: funny, energetic and eye-catching. Haaser (Ado Annie) along with Katie Habib (Gertie Cummings) were believable in their parts. Dodson (Jud Fry) impressed the audience with his vocal range as the bad guy you love to hate.

Baldwin reviewed "Oklahoma!" for the Baltimore Cappies, a program in which students review high school productions and vote on awards for outstanding performances. River Hill High School presented "Oklahoma!" from March 4 through Sunday.

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