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Teen critic Williams on ‘Oklahoma!’: Well done

By Alexis Williams

Eleven Charlotte-area high school students are competing in the new theater criticism category of the Blumey Awards, the Blumenthal Performing Arts’ annual musical theater awards program (read more about that here.) Each student writes three reviews; the following is one entry:

Love. Deceit. Hidden feelings. A hero who saves the damsel in distress. Persian sorcery. Take these components and couple them with a classic Rogers and Hammerstein score, and what is the final result? North Lincoln High School’s production of the legendary show, “Oklahoma!,” performed at 7:30 p.m. on March 7.

“Oklahoma!” follows the story of Laurey Williams, a young girl who is forced into deciding whether she should follow her heart or her mind when she finds herself as the love interest of two different men; one of which is her true love who desperately loves her in return, while the other is a dark and perverted antagonist who only wants to marry Laurey in hopes of renewing his reputation. Other subplots include the more comedic tale of Ado Annie and her hopeless attempt to decide between the mystic and deceitful Ali Hakim and the love struck Will, who sells almost everything he owns just to be with her.

This musical has been one of the most popular choices for community and school productions and the original Broadway production, along with its multiple revivals and adaptations has won numerous awards. However, times are obviously shifting in the theater world, as many modern scores are sounding more like rock albums, and “theatrical” music is becoming more contemporary, as shown by some recent Broadway blockbusters like “Rent,” “Next to Normal” and “Spring Awakening.”

While there’s always room for both classical and contemporary Broadway, “Oklahoma!” has the potential to find itself on the list of outdated shows. However, this doesn’t stop North Lincoln High School from taking strong leads, beautiful costumes and a wonderful live orchestra and creating an enjoyable and quality production. Chris Belk (Curly) arguably has the strongest voice in the cast, and his chemistry with Morgan Spence (Laurey, who also gave a lovely performance) was believable. Gracie Lowman’s performance of Ado Annie was hysterical, and Lowman was able to blend spot-on comedic timing with an impressive vocal range. The show stealers were Jeremy Moore (Ali Hakim) and Joey Nuhfer (Will), both of which were able to utilize improvisation seamlessly when it was needed.

However, everyone in the cast deserves acclaim for their exceptional diction while using dialects, and their perfect volume over the loud orchestra.

Overall, this production is very well done. The entire cast works well together, and this was no disappointment to such a classic show.

This article is part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance (a consortium of local media dedicated to writing about the arts) and the Blumenthal Student Critic Program.
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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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