June 26-July 9, 1998
Oklahoma: Oh, What a Beautiful Curly
By Christopher Jackson
The heavens were smiling on the opening night of the St. Louis Muny Opera's 80th Season as the rain clouds parted to make way for a sunny production of  Oklahoma!, led by the charismatic James Clow as Curly, who looked as good as he sang (and then there were those chaps!).   It was the finest Muny production in recent memory.

The supporting cast was fine (including Broadway veteran Bruce Alder as the scene-stealing Ali Hakim) but it was Clow's fine comic timing (not usually associated with the role of Curly), charismatic presence and stunning voice that stole this show (did I mention the chaps?)  The only weak links were Gemze De Lappe's (what a name) lackluster dream ballet choreography and June Squibb (a ho-hum Aunt Eller) who got her biggest laugh unintentionally when she described herself in a line as "scrawny".  (Ms. Squibb has been on good terms with many a sweet potato pie.)
But all in all it was a lovely way to spend an evening - the weather was perfect - and then, right on cue to the second show was over, it poured. God (or the ghosts of Rodgers and Hammerstein) were truly looking out for the season opener.  Let's hope it's a good indication of things to come.  On the drive home, I whistled all the happy tunes for Oklahoma!, relieving my fond memories, and
re-writing my the dream ballet in my mind: James Clow would rope me with his big lasso, hog-tie me and carry me off into the sunset as the wind comes sweeping down the plain. (I can dream, no?)

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