What’s up West Side!!! So excited because this is my first review of a community theatre company from the west of Toronto. If you like what you read, pass along my name to other companies west of the city so that I can see all of the talented people on that side of my world!
***This whole blog is best read in a deep Southern accent***
Tonight I was at the dress rehearsal for City Centre Musical Productions’ “Oklahoma!” What a rip-roaring good ol’ time I had! First off, it’s just such a fun musical. It’s like 80% music and 20% dialogue and you can’t help but tap your toe/do full on dance moves in your seat while watching such a talented cast of people have a swell time!
The incomparable Michael MacLennan was at the helm of this golden-age musical as both Director and Choreographer. Michael comes into this Rogers & Hammerstein classic with countless years of experience both on stage and on many creative teams. With a cast of 40 adults under his reign, he weaves them through box steps, grape vines, and two-steps and not once does the stage seem cluttered with people. They all dance (literally and figuratively) around the stage with ease and clarity. One of my pet peeves happens to be large ensembles in shows, but I didn’t feel like this group of 40 performers was a large amount at all, and that’s because of Michael’s blocking and overall vision. The whole “Farmer and the Cowman” dance number was my all time favourite. Wonderful choreography executed brilliantly by the cast. Bravo!
When I first arrived, as it was a dress rehearsal, I was asked to come through the stage door which led me out onto the stage and then into the audience. As I walked on stage and saw the set, there was a part of me that wondered if they hadn’t yet gotten around to painting it yet….then once the show started, the curtain rose, and I saw such a beautiful sight. The set, which is mostly blonde wood (excuse my ignorance to describe that any further…) miraculously changed before my very eyes from scene to scene because of how that simple wood played under the lights. The simplicity was perfection and with minimal set changes ( I HATE set changes!!!) I, as the audience member, never felt like I was being taken out of the show. I was in it from front to end. It was a beautiful pairing thanks to Chris Stolz’ set design and John Dalgleish’s lighting design. The burst of colour in each scene came from the lovely costumes designed by mother-daughter power team, Alex & Carmen Amini. It was a true representation of how the design elements can come together in a production.
I could not stop hearing “I am not throwing away my shot!” over and over again in my head when I saw Ray appear in scene after scene. The character of Ali Hakim, the peddler, is in the show to provide an arch-nemesis for Will Parker (played by the adorable Malakai Vieira) and to toy with the sex-drive of Ado Annie (portrayed by the charming and funny Heidi Cyfko). Ray just killed it! He made everyone around him on stage better when he was in scenes with them and his level of professionalism in the way he moved, spoke and invested himself in his character was sensational. Hey Ray, wanna come give me a Persian goodbye?
- To the Dance Ensemble – Emma Campbell, Yvette Ferguson, Dale Hunter, Camille Labonte, Alix Kingston, Katherine Kormos, Kristen Amy and Diane Spence – you ladies were awesome! You are incredible dancers and were always in sync, smiling and being down right adorable!
- To Matthew Butler who charmed his way into my heart as the stubborn, yet loveable Curly McLain.
- To Malakai Vieira and Heidi Cyfko for some hot on stage chemistry as Will & Ado Annie.
City Centre Musical Productions’ “Oklahoma!” is not one to miss! Be sure to catch it at Meadowvale Theatre, March 17-26, 2017. Tickets are available at http://www.encoretix.org or by calling 905-615-4720. Ye-Haw!