Oh, what a wonderful evening audiences are in for with the now being staged production of “Oklahoma!” at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
During the Sept. 19 opening of the show, theater-goers were enraptured from the very start by the off-stage entrance of Colte Julian, aptly cast as the handsome Curly, as he walks down an aisle singing the glorious “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”
This silver-tongued devil of a cowboy captured the essence of the show from the first note. He continued to do so, along with his fellow soon-to-be Oklahomans until the entire cast gave a rousing rendition of the title song at the end.
Set in the 1906 west, just before the great “OK” would become a state, this story is based on a play by Lynn Riggs. With music, lyrics and book by the legendary Rodgers and Hammerstein we experience this truly American play in the fabulous setting that is the Paramount.
Director Jim Corti brings together a fabulous cast and team to create a magnificent night of nostalgic Americana theater that is as fresh today as it was when it opened in the 1940s.
There is the love story of Curly trying to win over the strong-willed Laurey (another beautiful voice by Allison Sill) much to the dislike of the dark-hearted Jud Fry (Peter Saide).
Then comes another story of the lusty, yet naïve Ado Annie (hilariously played by Lillie Cummings) who is being courted by two men, the enthusiastic and equally naïve Will Parker and Persian peddler, Ali Hakim.
Ali (Kareem Bandealy) has his own selfish intentions for Ado Annie, but the silly and love-struck Will (Carl Draper) is out to win her heart.
Caron Buinis as the feisty pistol-packin’ Aunt Eller is a hoot and a half! She’s the wise woman who stands up for what she believes, yet has a great deal of fun in the meantime.
The music is as fresh as ever. With classic songs like “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “I Cain’t Say No!” (hilariously delivered by Cummings) and one of the best love songs ever, “People Will Say We’re in Love,” (kudos to Julian and Sill on this moving performance), this is an amazing show.
Add to that, the show-ending, “Oklahoma!” performed by the entire cast to the always great Paramount orchestra under the direction of Tom Vendafreddo, fabulous costumes by Theresa Ham and set designed with an old west combined with a modern take by Scott Davis, and outstanding choreography by Katie Spelman and this show equals great entertainment.
“Oklahoma!” runs through Oct. 18 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. For tickets or information call the box office at 630-896-6666 or visit the Paramount Theatre website.