Review: Elon University's Oklahoma!

I am lucky to go to a university that has an incredible musical theatre program that turns out talented performers like Adam Kaplan and Grant Gustin. I particularly appreciate this because it means that I get to see incredible theatre productions by tomorrow's Broadway stars for free. I actually got to see Oklahoma! twice: once with my family the first weekend it showed and on closing night with a friend from back home.

I'll start by admitting that I don't care for Oklahoma! as a show. I appreciate its significance in the history of musical theatre and even like some of its songs, but it hasn't appealed to me in years (I was obsessed with the movie of it as a child, for some reason--no wonder I turned out so strange). However, this production was absolutely incredible from the scenery to the costuming to the actors. I'm truly impressed by the level of theatre that my university achieves. 

Seniors Drew Shafranek and Michaela Vine shined as Curly and Laurie. Both their vocals and acting were lovely and the two had great chemistry on stage. It was easy to forget that Michaela is still a college student when watching her on stage. The role of Laurie is a somewhat tricky one and she played it flawlessly. Senior Jillian Hannah was a hilarious Aunt Eller, who managed to bring heart to the role as well. One of the most touching moments of the show was after the murder, when she tells Laurie that she has to be "hearty." 

For me, sophomores Mara Wilson and Drew Redington stole the show as Ado Annie and Will. Drew's tapping was impressive, as was the rest of the male cast's dancing, and he brought the right charisma to the role. "Kansas City" was easily the best overall number of the show, in my opinion. Mara Wilson, who I learned in the program was nominated for a BroadwayWorld award for her performance as Eponine at the Reagle Music Theatre in Greater Boston, played an endearing if excitable Ado Annie and her belting was phenomenal. 

Fergie Philippe, a junior, was incredible as Jud. Honestly, I've never wished for Jud to have another solo in the second act before! His voice is powerful, but it was the fact that he managed to make a rather despicable character sympathetic at times that really impressed me. (On a side note: Fergie would be a perfect Hercules Mulligan in Hamilton. Just in case you're reading this, Lin.) 

I can't finish this review without mentioning Maxel Garcia, a senior, who played Ali Hakim. His comedic timing was absolutely impeccable and brightened up the whole show. 

I always try to take advantage of the amazing opportunity I have to see professional level theatre (honestly, at least comparable to national tours) at my own school. If you ever have a chance to see an Elon show, do it! Oklahoma! was a fantastic production and I'm so glad I got to share it with my family and my friend, Nupur. 
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