Oklahoma! by Sun Valley High School in Aston, PA
March 23, 2022
Review submitted by Aiden Kaliner of Harriton High School
Hidden underneath the beautiful mornin’ sunshine are bubbling tensions, conflict, and secrecy. Sun Valley High School’s production of Oklahoma! encapsulated the western prairie life quite phenomenally.
Written by the Golden Age duo, Rodgers and Hammerstein, in 1943, Oklahoma! is widely regarded as one of the most significant musical theatre pieces for revolutionizing the art form itself. Set in the early twentieth century, before the Oklahoma territory became a state, the musical revolves around the story of the complicated romance between Laurey, a farm girl, and Curly, a cowboy. The plot thickens with conflict, courtship, and even perilous murder.
The cast of Sun Valley’s production transported audiences straight to the farmland. With consistent and accurate southern accents, the leading and supporting actors were a joy to watch. Furthermore, the ensemble of dancers, most notably in the “Dream Ballet,” was astonishing and utilized their strong skills to accelerate the story. The ensemble, as a whole, sang through the classic score brilliantly. Their beautiful harmonies throughout the musical were pleasant.
Seamus McGroary was utterly captivating as Curly, leading the show with poise and talent. His performance, anchored in strong vocals and brilliant acting choices, enchanted audiences, specifically with his entrance of “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’.” McGroary’s charming demeanor played beautifully off of Ella Peterson’s stubborn Laurey. McGroary and Peterson’s growing chemistry was lovable, heartwarming, and genuine.
Kerra Johnson’s incredible portrayal of Ado Annie must be commended. Her show-stopping number, “I Cain’t Say No,” set the tone perfectly for the rest of her performance. Johnson’s stage presence brought lively energy and comedic relief to the production. Alec Cianci (Jud Fry) masterfully portrayed Curly’s foil. His terrifying and jaded acting choices, enhanced by his spot-on accent, added to the building suspense. Kayden Mariorine (Will Parker) entertained audiences with his dashing charm and humorous deliveries. The hilarious duo of Maiorine and Johnson was a stand-out aspect of the production.
The Sun Valley Stage Crew efficiently moved the set after each scene. The changes were quick and barely noticeable. Additionally, the Sun Valley Lobby Team, in charge of decorating the lobby to reflect 1900s Oklahoma, set the mood perfectly before walking into the theater. Although the lighting, designed by Gavin Closs, Emily Nguyen, and Dior Sy, left some actors in the dark when using the spotlight during the first act, the designers seemed to have improved during the second act.
Sun Valley High School’s Oklahoma! had audiences humming classic tunes while displaying the timeliness of yearning for love.
Review submitted by Anna Fattizzo of Upper Darby School District
Most people are somewhat familiar with the foot-tapping fun of Oklahoma! Sun Valley High School’s production of Oklahoma! captured both the joy of the musical itself and the joy of seeing remarkable high school theatre!
Based on the 1931 play by Lynn Riggs titled Green Grown the Lilacs, Oklahoma! was the first work of legendary musical theatre duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. The Broadway production premiered in 1943 and the musical has since seen many successful rivals. Set in 1906 before Oklahoma became a state, the plot centers around the courtship of farm girl, Laurey Williams. Laurey finds herself conflicted between the cowboy protagonist Curley McLain and the foreboding farmhand Jud Fry.
Oklahoma! is considered a classic and the students of Sun Valley High School did it justice. The cast captured the spirit of the show all while delivering strong vocals and crisp choreography. The students were equally adept at capturing both the lighthearted moments of the show in high-energy numbers such as “Oklahoma”, as well as portraying the more serious themes in contemplative numbers like “Out of my Dreams” The absolute standout from the production was the “Dream Ballet”. The dance ensemble delivered a layered performance that was both poetic and engaging to watch.
Curly is characterized as charming and devoted to Laurey, and Seamus McGroary’s take on Curly was spot on. McGroary’s voice was impressive as he skillfully crooned famous numbers like “The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top”. Additionally, McGroary was a fabulous scene partner to Ella Peterson’s Laurey. McGroary and Peterson worked very well together balancing the comical banter between the couple and the more tender and intimate moments.
The supporting cast also delivered memorable performances. Kerra Johnson’s Ado Annie delivered a show-stopping rendition of “I Cain’t Say No”. Johnson’s voice was clear and powerful and the physicality she used during her performance made it all the more enjoyable. Ado Annie’s love interest, Will Parker, portrayed by Kayden Maiorine also delivered a highly energetic and comical performance.
Although few, the student done technical elements of the production were well executed. Microphone cues and levels were mainly on point except for a few errors in the second act. The lighting though polished, at times, could have been better used to illuminate the entire cast’s faces more clearly. The crew did remarkably well with smooth transitions of large set pieces.
Sun Valley’s take on the great Rogers and Hammerstein classic was impressive. Both lead actors and the ensemble delivered a show full of energy, dancing, and ultimately fun. Sun Valley’s truly dynamic production of Oklahoma! once again reminded me of how great it is to see live theatre!