Wednesday, 1 April 2015

OKLAHOMA! Crediton Operatic & Dramatic Society (CODS) Queen Elizabeth Academy Lower School (Barnfield) Monday 6 April - Saturday 11 April 2015

Crediton Operatic & Dramatic Society

There may be no theatre building in Crediton, but that hasn't discouraged the members of the local community opera and drama society, CODS. The company have been putting on concerts in Crediton for the past fifty years. In 2014 they staged Lionel Bart's "Blitz" at Easter, directed by Sarah & Simon Carter, and performed at "Lower School". To celebrate those fifty glorious years in advance, there was "An Evening of Songs" at the Boniface Centre in September - with supper, repeated at Sandford Village Hall a week later, black tie optional. Finally, at the end of October, CODS were at the Upper School for a Gilbert & Sullivan mash-up, "Trial on Pinafore", directed by Mike Canning and Phil Ward.

This year starts with a thrilling musical. Based on Lynn Rigg's play "Green Grow the Lilacs", "Oklahoma!" built on the success of "Show Boat". Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the words and Richard Rodgers set them to music. The play opened on broadway during the Second World War, and recalled the days before the First War - in Claremore, Rogers County, in 1906. Rigg's play was written in 1931 and has some fun with the local farm workers' reaction to the new inventions of the twentieth century. The main theme, however, is the age-old one of relationships - and attitudes regarding relationships. Some of the ideas expressed are quite shocking, and it is equally shocking to realise how little things have improved in the intervening century.

Director/Choreographer: Emily Killeen
Musical Director: Ian Crew

For this production Emily Killeen and Ian Crew have taken over the "Lower School" site once more. It is conveniently available for two weeks during the school's Easter holiday.

It is ESSENTIAL for anyone wanting to see this play to distinguish "upper" and "lower". The "Upper School" is in the centre of the town, opposite the Red House, and pretty easy to find. However, "Lower School" is outside the town on the Exeter side, and reached from Exeter Road by turning into Park Road (just before Treen's Motorcycles) and following this to Barnfield - a road up a steep hill, which ends at the gates of "Lower School". I hope that's clear!

Emily Killeen has worked extraordinarily hard on the stage management, and especially the choreography for this play. There are a bewilderingly complex array of dance numbers, all beautiful, all stunningly coordinated. Add to that the spectacular acting and show-stopping songs, and you have the ingredients for a dazzling evening of entertainment.

As the crew got under way with the building of the set, and Jane Bailey and Bobby Murphy continued to work non-stop on costumes, the actors grabbed the stage on Monday evening this week for a full run-through. Here are a few photographs to give some idea of the scale of this production. Even in mufti the cast make an impressive site, and the Oklahoma countryside can be seen growing in the background.

Much of the black backdrop will be seating on opening night. The play will be viewed 'in the round' from three banks of 'bleachers'. The front rows are stage-side, and very close to the action. Book a front row seat for a really exciting show!

Ben Edgecombe is Curly McLain
John Nash is Will Parker
Nikki Wilkes is Laurey Williams
Sarah Carter is Ado Annie Carnes

Cathy Lamb is Laurey's Aunt Eller
Mike Felstead is Ali Hakim

Ali fancies the girls

and tries it on
but Aunt Eller
won't stand for no nonsense
Ian Crew accompanies
as Laurey sings the narrative
with audience participation

and any excuse for a dance
Jason Bomford
is Andrew Carnes
(Ado Annie's father)

Who also has a few choice words
for the philandering Ali

A thrilling entrance for Will Parker
(John Nash)
and an equally thrilling exit for Ali

Preparing picnic hampers
and comparing gooseberry tarts
Tasha Currie is Gertie Cummings
with Aunt Eller and Laurey Williams
Curly comes on
a bit too strong
and is rebuffed

While Laurey weeps
another suitor bewails his lot
Phil Ward is Jud Fry
living in the smokehouse
and very wary of visitors

A fortune teller - Vivian

introduces another conflab

and a song of longing

The girls cheer Laurey up
with a dance

Annie gets Laurey to join in
Such fun!
When Curly joins in
things can only get better
The dance becomes a celebration
but someone is jealous
     And now read on . . .

Crediton Operatic Dramatic Society
Lower School Queen Elizabeth Academy Crediton
Monday 6 - Saturday 11 April 7.30pm
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Stage Director: Emily Killeen
Musical Director: Ian Crew
Curly McLain: Ben Edgecombe
Laurey Williams: Nikki Wilkes
Will Parker: John Nash
Ado Annie Carnes: Sarah Carter
Andrew Carnes: Jason Bomford
Jud Fry: Phil Ward
Tickets: £12.60 (concession £10)
Olivia James: 01363 777969
CODS Website

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