The Reagle Music Theatre specializes in historically informed performances of classic American musicals like their OKLAHOMA (running through July 17th). Thanks to legendary choreographer Gemze DeLappe (who performed in many of Rogers and Hammerstein’s original productions) Reagle audiences can witness Agnes DeMille’s groundbreaking choreography.
DeMille and Rogers and Hammerstein transformed musical theater by introducing ballet to express a character’s inner thoughts. In her OKLAHOMA dreamscape, the heroine dances a nightmare reverie in which her worst fears are realized. Rie Ogura and Joshua Andino Nieto (as the dream Laurey and Curly) make the Reagle’s production soar. Director Holly-Anne Ruggiero is fortunate, as well, to have Eliza Xenakis and Stephen Mark Lukas as the singing/acting Laurey and Curly. Both give lively, heartfelt performances.
Ellen Peterson as Aunt Eller brings a spunky, pioneer spirit to the central role of everyone’s confidante/touchstone. Doug Jabara supplies the chills (and a wonderful baritone) as the villain. Steve Geary is hilarious as the cowboy who keeps losing his intended (Maggie McNeil) and Todd Yard adds mirth as the peddler who can’t seem to get rid of her.
Act I is a bit long and the stilted, gestural language of the choreography may seem dated to today’s audiences but patience will be rewarded in Act II with not one, but two big production numbers for the cast of fifty. “Territory Folks” is a show stopping hoedown and the title song, “Oklahoma” brings down the house.