The Ogunquit Playhouse is going south of the Mason Dixie line for its second show of their 86th season, Oklahoma! . Speaking of anniversaries, this marks the 75th anniversary of Oklahoma! As with the usually elevated expectations of the Ogunquit Playhouse, it was expected to be barn burner of a diamond jubilee celebration. With vibrant sets, acrobatic stunts, colorful costumes and catchy showtunes that really perk you up, Oklahoma! Is the feel-good cowboy show of the year (well at least for those who didn’t see the Ryan Landry parody Broklahomo!… but I digress…)
Set in the frontier (apparently before Oklahoma became a state), it follows the romantic adventures of a two couples- the sassy tomgirl Laurey Williams (Taylor Quick), who is being courted by the sexy rancher Curly (Stephen Mark Lukas), who has admired her for a long time and is eager to move forward. Meanwhile, a love triangle amongst flirty Ado Annie (Chessa Metz) and the two men who desire her- traveling salesman ne’er-do-well Ali (Martin Sola- who stole the show with his comic antics) and proper and respectful cowboy Will Parker (Colby Dexelick). Set during a picnic basket date raffle, many baskets are plundered and kisses are swapped as the various parties try to pursue their love interests while dodging the various other plot entanglements -shoot outs, psycho killer ranch hands, feisty aunties -(Susann Fletcher is a real hoot as the Sooner State’s version of Grannie from the ‘Beverly Hillbillies” TV show.
Clocking in at about 3 hours, I was originally worried about RRS (Restless Reviewer Syndrome) kicking in. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by how quick the production rolled along (even during a detour thru a ballet dream at the end of the first act). The only complaint I had was the overly simplistic mock “jury trial” at the end of the 2nd act when a character kills another in a clear case of self-defense (witnessed by the entire town, no less). I felt this could have been handled more streamlined with a few lines of dialogue at the end of the lethal fight scene and then focus on the lighthearted reprise of the title song. This is a fairly mild criticism, however, and the end result doesn’t seriously affect enjoyment of this nostalgic piece of American Theater. And those cowboys and their chaps…..
“Oklahoma” is running now through July 7th. For tickets and show times, call 207-646-5511 or visit their website at www.Ogunquitplayhouse.org