I normally keep this blog focused on issues around movies and movie casting, but want to diverge from that a little bit and talk mostly about a classic American musical. Oklahoma is currently being performed by Point Park University's Conservatory Theatre Company at the Pittsburgh Playhouse through October 27th. It's an excellent production, with strong singers and inventive set design. Well, it seemed inventive to me as I'd never seen a live production of Oklahoma before last night. Perhaps it's the same production design they've done since the 1940s, but it looked inventive to me.
Among the singers, Kirsten Lynn Hoover (Laurey) and Jorie Ann Kosel (Ado Annie) were particularly noteworthy, but all of them were very good.
I heard about this production a few weeks ago, when Patrick Cassidy (the director) was on Essential Pittsburgh with his mother, Shirley Jones. Jones was from the Pittsburgh area and used to attend a summer high school program at Point Park before she became the quintessential Rogers & Hammerstein musical star of the '50s. Between never having seen Oklahoma live and hearing that Jones was coming to opening night, I bought a ticket (and one advantage of going to this play alone - I got a single seat in the second row). I grew up on musicals - my mom's favorite song to sing around the house when I was very little was "People Would Say We're In Love" (and, in those days, Mom's voice was similar to Shirley Jones'). Mom and Dad also collected albums of musicals, so I knew the music to the movie of Oklahoma cold from the time I was about eight. So it was beyond cool to see Jones come on stage after the show and talk about how thrilled she was about the production.
Even on the future nights when Shirley Jones isn't in the audience, seeing this stage production of Oklahoma is definitely worth your while.