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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in new articles, Reviews | 0 comments

Oklahoma at Lyric Opera Chicago: Just Wondering, Is Renee In It?

Oklahoma at Lyric Opera Chicago: Just Wondering, Is Renee In It?

by Melissa Wimbish

Photo Credit: Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

When I read these headlines:

Grand staging for ‘Oklahoma’ in the hands of Lyric Opera

THEATER REVIEW: “Oklahoma” at Lyric Opera of Chicago ???

I LOLd first. And then I thought of how genuinely painful it must be for musical theatre lovers to see their beloved art form “in the hands of Lyric Opera”.
I’m not trying to poke fun at them…I really do feel a little bad. After all, my first love was musical theater — and sometimes opera companies just don’t deliver it with the same spunk! It was very interesting to read this reviewers thoughts, particularly on the age of the performers. Were any of our readers there? Do you agree with this assessment? Check out the Operagasm review rundown!
Keep your old bats out of our repertoire: “Does one get enough of that sense from the narrative of Gary Griffin’s new Lyric production? No, not sufficiently, partly because the lead roles have been cast with older performers, an established convention in the opera world but more problematic, I’d submit, when an opera company is doing Oklahoma!
Stick to playing bag ladies, you’re good at that: “Ashley Brown, who sings Laurey with the same precise mastery she brought to Mary Poppins on Broadway, has a beautifully clear soprano and, here as always, formidable acting chops (you can see them working in “People Will Say We’re in Love”). But the evident sophistication of the wry performer is at odds with the total naivete of the character. She’s a huge talent, but not well cast.”
Too civilized for my taste: “I’ve seen Oklahoma! work in the past with more mature performers — after all, Laurey might have been waiting on that farm for a while — but that needs a more definitive set of choices (such as an air of desperation in that line about the heartbeat quoted above) than one finds here. Speaking more generally, this production also needs more fluidity, more temporal fragility, more of the tremulous motion of “waivin’ wheat,” and, above all, more dramatic tension among characters unsure of what to let in and what to keep out.”
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