'Splendid Voices' at Edison Production of Oklahoma!

Student actors shine under theatrical moonlight

Students at Edison High School will be performing Oklahoma! on May 4 and 5 at 7 p.m., with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on May 5. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at edisondrama.com.

Considering that before this play, I had never even heard of Oklahoma!, I am glad to say that the near-professional performances of the Thomas Edison High School students has taught me to love the play and cherish it as a classic of Theater.

Oklahoma was originally written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and opened on Broadway in 1943. The play was a smashing success and went on to be revived on Broadway and West End six times. It was even adapted into a film in 1955 and is known as the First Modern musical, in that it incorporated the dancing to the story for the first time.

Edison's production stuck to the original, and we are taken to the territory of Oklahoma in the early 1900s as we follow the adventures of Curly and Laurey, a young couple who hide their feelings for one another, and who kept us in our seats until the very end. Purev Aslanbaatar was spectacular in his lead role as Curly, with his spot-on acting, and his marvelous singing. Isabella Ness portrayed the character of Laurey with invigorating enthusiasm, as we watched her and Aslanbaatar fall in love together on stage and we in turn, with them and their performance. The chemistry between the two was excellent and was allowed to show during their song together "People will say we're in Love."

Juliette Cross told us why she "Cain't Say No" and kept us laughing in her role as the innocently flirty Ado Annie, while Brad Cooley held us in a state of fear in his part as the terrifying Jud, whose voice and acting was simply astonishing. Nathan Vasquez's hilarious part as Ali Hakim was filled with comedy and energy which made his character very enjoyable to watch. And of course, Harrison Riehle held steady and showed his determination to marry Ado Annie, no matter how many stupid mistakes the character makes along the way. He was truly a delight as Will Parker.

The ever present ensemble of Cowboys filled the audience with laughter at times they least expected. This crew of fellows likened to the penguins of Madagascar, not always in the spotlight, but bursting from out of nowhere to make you laugh like you've never laughed before.

The choreography was astounding throughout the performance and they even managed to pull off one of the hardest scenes in any musical. The dream Ballet sequence. The scene masterfully communicated the events non-verbally and kept the light on the dancer consistently.

The lights and screen were used excellently, most notably when the story continues at midnight, with the lights dimmed down and the screens turned to just the right settings, the actors and actresses shined as the opalescence of the moon shone down on them.

With splendid voices and talented actors Thomas Edison High School showed us all "What a Beautiful Morning" takes place in Oklahoma!

by Matt Richardson of Thomas Wootton HS through the high school Cappies program, the critics and awards program for high school theater. In this program, high school students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools and write reviews for local newspapers. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.


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