Review: Walnut Hills' ‘Oklahoma!' sweeps audience away

The sky is bluer than ever. The wind whistles past, and you feel the warmth of the sun on your face. You open your eyes and an endless sea of land stretches before you. A cowman comes galloping over the horizon and you know it’s the beginning of a beautiful morning. Walnut Hills High School’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air, and swept the audience away on a wild adventure through the West in their discovery of acceptance and true love.

“Oklahoma!,” first performed in 1943, is a riveting tale of Curly McLain, a brave cowboy who has his sights set on Laurey Williams, a stubborn girl with no time for men. The scene is set in Oklahoma territory in 1906. It's almost time for the annual Box Social for the School House, and Curly flirts endlessly with Laurey, hoping that she will accept his request to go with him. Being her headstrong self, Laurey accepts another invitation in spite of Curly’s request. Her new date is Jud Fry, a deranged farmhand with a disturbing obsession with Laurey. Soon, Laurey’s fear for Jud overcomes her spite towards Curly. Now, Curly must find a way to win back Laurey and reclaim his love for her, while avoiding the dangerous but misunderstood Jud.

The entire cast at Walnut Hills was extremely talented in both acting and vocals. There was a consistent feeling of energy from everyone taking part in this production and the overall result was an excellent show that brought the beauty and inspiration of “Oklahoma!” to life.

Erin Speno and Nick Witzeman showed an immense amount of talent in their roles as Laurey and Curly. Erin did an excellent job of creating a perfect balance of stubbornness and elegance in her role as Laurey. Nick also did a great job in portraying a cocky cowman with a sweet disposition. He had the audience members chuckling at his devilish grin and flirtatious attitude several times during the show. Also, Isaac Shapiro did an amazing job playing the character Jud; with incredible vocal ability and great acting, he added a chilling tone to the production.

Some of the best moments in “Oklahoma!” would not have been the same without those characters, such as Will Parker, played by Bradley Buchman and Ado Annie, played by Maddie Eaton in their whirlwind relationship. Maddie did a fabulous job of playing the sensual woman who just can’t say no when it comes to men. Of course, one of the funniest characters in the production had to have been Ali Hakim, played by Austin Lamewona, who did an excellent job portraying a quirky salesman who’s sweet on Annie.

Walnut Hills High School’s crew did an exceptional job of portraying the wide open spaces and bright shining sun of Oklahoma. They also did an excellent job of creating a simple set that was clean cut and perfect for this show. The overall effect was an extremely realistic set that looked like there was a little piece of Oklahoma right on stage.

Not only did Walnut Hills’ production tell this classic story, but they made the show better and more exciting as a whole by making it their own and creating a performance that was not only well done, but incredibly breathtaking.

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