Arts and Entertainment

‘Oklahoma’ delivers a dose of down-home delights

David Katz, as Curly, sings to Zoey Rice, in the role of Laurey, about the marvels of riding in “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top.”   - Hawk Jones Photo
David Katz, as Curly, sings to Zoey Rice, in the role of Laurey, about the marvels of riding in “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top.”
— image credit: Hawk Jones Photo

The cast of Drama Dock’s “Oklahoma” definitely earned the standing ovation they received on Saturday night.

From their twangy accents to their blue jeans or full skirts, each member of the cast of 37 filled out his or her role with a passion and vibrancy that made the play a joyous ride from start to finish. And the famous and catchy tunes from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” well executed by Vashon’s cast and band, linger days after the performance has concluded.

The protagonists, Curly and Laurey — played by David Katz and Zoey Rice — deserve an ovation all their own. From the first note sung by Curly to the couple’s final smooch, the young cowboy and frontier woman captivate the audience wholeheartedly. Their chemistry is palpable, though their romance doesn’t come easily. At first, the duo have a cagey emotional tug-of-war, which is as real as the boots on Curly’s feet.

Other show-stoppers include Will Parker and Ado Annie, known in real life as David Hackett and Lissy Nichols. Their flirtatious and ardent relationship is also a challenging one, as Ado Annie finds it hard to say no to any boy who asks her for a kiss. She’s no match, however, for Parker’s dapper dance moves, sweet-talking nature, charisma and charm. Ado Annie lights up the stage with her bright smile as she admits she “can’t be what she ain’t” — she’s anything but prissy.

One of Annie’s other love interests, Ali Hakim, is played to a tee by Phil Dunn. He masters a Persian accent and truly seems a foreigner who, to Ado Annie, is exotic and exciting.

Aunt Eller, played by Kristina Turner, has a sharp wit she cracks like a whip whenever Curly comes around. She cuts a mean rug, and is quick to lend her frontier sensibilities to her niece Laurey.

A bit character whose presence is larger than her lines is Gertie Cummings, a young lady with an atrocious laugh pulled off delightfully — and repeatedly — by Kate Atwell.

Dancers from the Blue Heron and Vason Junior Civic Ballet lend a professional and graceful air to the play during scenes choreographed by Kathy Bonner. Their poise and presence on stage add a refreshing dance dimension to the musical.

And burlesque dancers, played by Claudia Gross-Shader, Barbara Gustafson and March Twisdale, steal the show for a few minutes when they confidently showcase their moves at the end of the first act.

The dark cloud that descends upon Oklahoma for much of the show, however, is Jud Fry, a sinister and repulsive farm hand employed by Aunt Eller and Laurey. Played by Randy Marinez, Fry is a creepy, surly and lustful man with violent tendencies that frighten those around him — especially Laurey. The farm hand does, however, have a distinctive and throaty deep voice that carries well. It was a relief to see, when the cast took a bow, a warm and friendly smile come over Marinez’s face, replacing the angry mask that had been there much of the show.

Accolades go, too, to the men and women off-stage who made the show such as success, including musical director Marita Ericksen and choreographer Bonner. The stamp of the show’s original director, Elizabeth Anthony — who had to hand over the directorial reins to Phil Dunn after suffering an illness in June — is all over “Oklahoma,” and Dunn clearly did a remarkable job in taking the show across the finish line. For a toe-tapping, funny and delightful afternoon or evening, “Oklahoma” surpasses expectations.

— Amelia Heagerty is a Beachcomber

staff reporter.

“Oklahoma” will continue Thursday through Sunday, July 15 to 18, at the Vashon High School theater. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday, July 18. Tickets for Thursday evening performances are $10 and $5; tickets to all other performances are $15 and $10. Buy tickets at Books by the Way, Vashon Bookshop and Family and group rates are also available — e-mail for details.

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