BY SANDY STAGGS
Greenwood Community Theatre is taking its audience’s to the rolling prairies and bucolic cornfields of “Oklahoma!” in a big budget musical Oklahoma that is both delightful and a nostalgic kick, literally.
Under the helm of John F .Keenan and the musical wonderment of a live 12-piece orchestra under the baton of Amy Blackwood, “Oklahoma!” thrives in its own compendium of irresistible melodies (“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ ” and “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top”) that can’t help but trigger a smile, and a longing for those simpler days of courtship when a sweet potato pie and a twirl of a dress were all that was required to walk the path to wedded bliss.
Handsome leading man Ryan Hewitt does it again in an all-out bravado turn as Curly, the romantic singing cowboy, who woos innocent farm girl Laurey (Mary Lyle Cathcart in an effervescent vision of loveliness and a bold, precision-driven voice to match (n the aforementioned opening numbers.
But Curly has some competition for Laurie’s hand from the malevolent farmhand Jud Fry (the rough-hewed pornography-obsessed (the 1906 equivalent) villain played to razor-sharp creep=factor perfection by an unrecognizable by Dave DiGeronimo.
This trio is responsible for some of the evening finest harmonies as well, from the lovers’ enticing “People Will Say We Are in Love” to Hewitt and DiGeronimo’s enviable machismo notes of the bizarre “Pore Jud is Daid.”
In a parallel courtship is good-time gal Ado Annie who just “Cain’t Say No!” (Taylor Baxley who gives this slightly bawdy role a country spin) and Will (Drake Calo) who is willing to spend his last dollar to take Annie to the social and win her heart.
Also in the mix is the peddler Ali Hakim (Joseph Strickland) who always finds himself on the barrel end of a shotgun wedding in these parts, the matriarch matchmaker Aunt Eller (Jane Merrill) and Anna Lyle Lethco with her hilarious hyena chuckle in the part of Gertie.
Hewitt is also lead choreographer of “Oklahoma!” and delivers a plethora of kinetic country steps with loads of stomp, do si dos and mile-high kicks, and even dazzles us in a breathless solo number.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein score is all the more endearing and thrilling with a live orchestra (even with their many reprises). The period costumes by Ashley Keenan (and Hewitt) are just splendid, John Keenan’s rustic reversible set pieces are a noble representation of time and place, and the “Dream Ballet” sequence is extremely well-executed. Get your tickets now.
“Oklahoma” continues for one more week, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., Feb. 28 – March 3 at Greenwood Community Theatre, 110 Main St. in Greenwood. Call (864) 229-5704 or visit www.greenwoodcommunitytheatre.com.