Barking Music and Drama


NODA Review

Society:          Barking Music and Drama
Production:    Oklahoma!
Date:              5th June 2013
Venue:           Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford
Report by :    Jacquie Stedman

I was very pleased to cover for Jackie Mitchell and attend your latest production of this very popular show.  This is the first musical that used the songs to move the story along and contains some of the most well known songs in musical theatre.

This was a splendid production, full of enthusiasm by a well drawn cast.  Their enthusiasm and joy of performing the show was transmitted to the audience who really appreciated everyone’s efforts. It moved at a good pace, lines were secure and all the characterisations were maintained throughout the performance.  There are some lovely comic lines in this production and I was pleased to note that everyone waited for the laughter to die down before they continued with the dialogue.  It is very easy for the audience to feel inhibited if the dialogue goes straight on over the laughter.

The set worked well and the lighting plot had some lovely moments.  In Act ll ‘Let People Say We’re in Love’ the stage was engulfed in a rosy glow and there were stars on the back syc which created a lovely effect.  The costumes had been well thought out and were suitable for the era.  I was pleased to see that you used a gun with a very realistic sound when it fired. The  notices informing the audience of the loud bangs during the performance were not well displayed and it might have been a good idea to put this information on a slip of paper in the programme too.

The opening, which is always a bit low-key, introduced us to Aunt Eller (Adriana Casali) who had a good accent which she maintained throughout.  She possesses excellent stage presence and moved comfortably around the stage interacting well with all the other members of the cast. She was very personable and easy with Curly during their initial dialogue.  I have often seen this role played by someone much bigger built than Adriana, but her strength of character and no nonsense approach to life belied her  stature.  She had all the grit and endurance of the early pioneers and was the solid rock upon which Laurey relied.  It is always her character which holds the production together, and she did this really well.

Curly (Philip Cable) gave an effective performance of a cowboy in love with Laurey, which he performed very well, acting very effectively through his singing.  He clearly revelled in this role and shared his enjoyment with everyone with whom he interacted  in the cast.  He looked very natural on the stage and moved with an easy assurance. 

Laurey (Joanne Tydeman) was Aunt Eller’s head strong, independent young niece. I think this is quite a difficult role because, although she is frightened of Jud Fry she is also fascinated by him and totally unaware of the effect she has on him.  He is, after all, one of the few men she would encounter on the farm, miles from anywhere.  Consequently she had the right amount of naivety to inadvertently lead him on but we also felt the confusion of her feelings for Curly.  This is further illustrated by the dream sequence.  Joanne managed to achieve this in a quiet, subtle way.  She had a sweet singing voice although she did appear to struggle with some of the higher register and could have projected her dialogue more in the quieter moments.

Jud (Daryl Kane) is a misunderstood man, and although appearing dangerous (as indeed he proves at the end of the show) the audience has to feel a sympathy for him.  He is a loner, harbouring unpleasant thoughts about women, but really wanting someone of his own, but not knowing the niceties of attracting anyone – a very complex role.  The character of Jud needs someone who is comfortable to play the role as a strange, lone and dangerous man, and Daryl did this very well.  He had a good mix of menace and pathos which came across so well when he sang ‘Lonely Room’.  He did not have the sophistication to see the immaturity in Laurey and so mis-read all the signs.  The whole character was very well observed.

Will Parker (Peter Kisbee) was a lovable character, very much in love with Ado Annie, but truly a one-woman guy.  His dancing was good and his reactions to Ado Annie’s antics were those of a man who has a tiger by the tail.  The character is very straightforward and Peter managed this well.  I felt he could have been a bit more exasperated generally with the situation and perhaps more masterful at the end, making it clear he was not going to stand for any nonsense.  He didn’t look altogether comfortable in his suit on his return from Kansas City and I did wonder why he wore that instead of his ‘cowboy’ outfit.

Ado Annie (Bernice Gill) is one of my favourite characters in this musical and Bernice played the part remarkably well. She kept the audience’s attention throughout the production as a gullible young lady and was very engaging to watch.  She was very animated and totally sure of herself and her character.  She had some lovely comic lines which were well delivered.  She had a very strong accent so do be careful that the accent doesn’t distort the words.

Ali Hakim (Rob Brown) was a very believable character, full of chat and charm.  He was a delight to watch and maintained the character voice of Ali, both speaking and singing which is not something many performers do well.  He got excellent support from the men during his song.  He was an obvious rogue but got his come uppance when he married Gertie Cummins (Marie Clarke) and that ghastly laugh, which was well delivered with gusto, that one cannot help having a certain sympathy with his situation.  His comic lines were delivered faultlessly.

Andrew Carnes (Tony Lucas) is a small but important character to the plot and it was performed admirably well.  Eager to get Ado Annie married off, he used his prop shotgun and played the lines with real comic timing. He was able to showcase his talents as singer at the box social in Act Two, which was a real pleasure to listen to.  He conducted the ‘trial’ well, trying hard to resist the urgency with which Aunt Eller wanted it pushed through.

Every society interprets the dream sequence differently and your dancers Dream Curly (Luke Stimson), Dream Laurey (Jessica Kane) and Dream Jud (Stephen Docherty) worked extremely well together to create this.  It was more athletic than I have seen before but this added to the menace of the situation and further emphasises Laurey’s confusion.

Good use was made of the supporting cast, their interaction between the leads was good and during the  production numbers their harmonies were excellent.   There is plenty for the chorus to do in this musical and I was delighted to see that you had created a real community with the inclusion of the children, who stole the show.  They were totally engaged whenever they were on stage and showed lots of maturity in not being phased by the audience and were absolutely delightful to watch.  Every member of the chorus played their chosen character throughout and was totally involved in all the action, even if they were only observing.  The dancing throughout and especially at the box social was energetic and well drilled enabling all the cast to participate with enthusiasm.

Many thanks to Jackie Mitchell for being unable to attend on this occasion and also to the members who looked after us before and after the performance.

I wish you luck for your next production in November.


Jacquie Stedman
NODA London