A bittersweet, high-energy and beautifully done production of "Oklahoma!" caps the 2011-12 season for Pleasanton's Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre.
Director Kendall Tieck has staged a pull-no-punches production of the ever-popular Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, choosing neither to highlight just the exuberance of life on the plains of the Oklahoma Territory, as many productions do, nor just to hit the dark notes, as was popular in productions a few years ago.
Instead, he let the complete story do the talking, and he has a talented cast to help him do just that, creating a sparkling version of the show that has been an audience favorite for nearly 60 years.
The story is about Oklahoma in the years just before statehood, in a small farm and ranching settlement bursting with excitement over statehood, romance and ongoing friction between the farmers and cowmen struggling over whether to build fences or let cattle run free. Rapidly, the tale comes down to a few different stories, including the romances between Curly and Laurey (Josh Milbourne and Katie Potts), Ado Annie and Will Parker (Morgan Breedveld and Will Peifer), and Ado Annie and Ali Hakim (Rick Costello). There is also the menacing presence of Jud Fry (Robert Sholty), and the efforts of Laurey's Aunt Eller (Mary Gimeno) to keep things in the village on an even keel.
Milbourne and Potts make a delightful leading couple. Both have terrific voices and develop a believable chemistry
Gimeno brings a great presence to her role and creates a character that keeps the village running as smoothly as it can with maybe a quarter of the population carrying guns.
Sholty plays a huge part in a number of the chilling scenes in the show.
The charming performances are augmented and heightened by the music, which includes tunes such as, "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," "Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Kansas City" and "Oklahoma!"
In addition to the wonderful voices, Jo Anne Fosselman directs a superlative 14-piece orchestra.
Contact Pat Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rodgers and Hammerstein; presented by Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre
Through: Aug. 5
Where: Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore
Running time: 2 hours,
Tickets: $27.50-$37.50; 925-373-6800,