- Muny Reviews 1998
- Thursday, June 18, 1998
- The 80th anniversary season of Americas
oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre, the St. Louis Muny Opera, opened on June 15
with the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma! Though Oklahoma! last played at the Muny only five years ago, it is always
a pleasure to attend a performance of a legendary musical which is perfectly suited for
the spacious Muny stage under the stars in Forest Park.
- Unfortunately, "under the stars" also
means susceptible to inclement weather, but a brief shower drove away few Muny audience
members and, under Paul Blakes guidance, delayed the beginning of the second act of Oklahoma! for only a half hour. Oklahoma! is the perfect kind of season opening show for Muny
audiences, one which has wide appeal, is suitable for all ages, and includes charming and
easily recognizable songs like "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", "Surrey with
the Fringe on Top", and the title song, "Oklahoma!".
- The Muny never fails to take advantage of their
expansive space when it comes to huge dance numbers like the toe-tapping "Kansas
City". The musicals ballet dream sequence, "Out of My Dreams" was
visually stunning, a dream in itself. Indeed, Oklahoma!s choreography was superb, the best I have witnessed
since the Munys 1994 production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
- The entire cast of Oklahoma! gave exceptional performances which could stand up
against the best of Broadway. Blended voices in ensemble numbers like "Kansas
City", "Many a New Day", and "The Farmer and the Cowman" were
outstanding, but James Clows portrayal of Curly was the
most impressive in the cast. Seen at the Muny last year in Three Coins in the Fountain,
Clow easily made the transition to leading man and his
strong, rich voice brought "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin" to life
gracefully. He's sure to soon be known as a "Muny Favorite".
- Bruce Adler (reprising his role as Ali Hakim from
the 1980 Broadway production) and Nancy Ringham (Ado Annie) were delightful and hilarious
in their supporting roles. And the musicals darkly humorous number "Pore Jud is
Daid" was cleverly delivered by Clow and Mark Lotito as
- If Oklahoma! is any indication of the
caliber of shows to come, its sure to be a stellar summer. The Munys 80th
anniversary season continues through August 9, so theres plenty of opportunity to
take advantage of one of St. Louiss finest musical theatre venues.
- For tickets call Metrotix at 314-534-1111, visit
the Muny Box Office in Forest Park, or arrive early for one of the 1,436 free seats
available every night. This article can also be found in the July issue of Intermission
Magazine - Covering Theatre and the Arts in St. Louis.