Following on from my previous Prom this one couldn’t be any different! Even though it is another semi staged version – this time it was the turn of Rodgers&Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!John Wilson and his Orchestra are of course a must…. even though I am usually a little sceptical of a full blown musical but I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by me without seeing it. Putting a musical on stage and finding the right theatre for it is no mean feat – but to put a musical on that limited stage space in the Royal Albert Hall in space of just a few weeks is a serious achievement. It was important for John Wilson to perform the musical in it entireity – including ballet music which is sometimes taken out.
From the first bars of that Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ we were in for a treat! The cast were simply stellar! With Proms Extra having a cheeky look behind the stage and a chat with some of the singers/dancers involved it was very eye opening to hear that it is incredibly important to John Wilson that the singing is done with the full body rather than just with from the neck upwards as it is more common nowadays. The accents put on by the singers were just amazing – thankfully I have received a fair bit of Southern Drool training on various trips to Texas but I can imagine that there were some members of tha audience that were seriously struggling. It is a seriously challenging piece of music – lasting 3 hours in total with some very demanding dance scenes in between. The sheer perfection of the dances left you dizzy with delight – those were the moments were you just wanted to get up and join into the barn dancing going on – simply spectacular!
I was suprised at the fact that I pretty much knew every single song – yet had never associated some of them with the musical. It was so great to see them sung in exactly the same I remember them being sung – especially The Farmer and The Cowman made me wiggle along. My absolute favourite character is Aunt Eller though – sung by Belinda Lang. I have seen people of that kind that must have inspired her part and Belinda was doing an outstanding job in portraying this gem of a person.
The orchestra was having their share of fun as well! As usual they were absolutely on top of their game – the sheer precision was outstanding. John Wilson and the musicians were having quite a few jokes in between when they weren’t playing and not a single musician looked grumpy. There is nothing better when you have excellent musicians, singers, choreography all brought together by a genius conductor who geniuinly cares about musical theatre and infects everyone with his enthusiasm. Always a winning combination!!