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a Musical
by Rodgers and Hammerstein

COMPANY : Big Top Productions
VENUE : Big Top Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 1544

SHOWING : July 07, 2006 - July 29, 2006



Our big summer musical this year is the always popular Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A!

Music Director Annie Cook
Director David Short
Set Design Robert Hadaway
Fight Choreographer Robert Hadaway
Costumer Samantha Haley
Choreographer Maria Karres-Williams
Stage Manager Ann Pavlik
Light/Sound Design Jennifer Pawley
Ali Hakim Stephen Banks
Will Parker John Carucci
Cord Elam Keith Embler
Ado Annie Christie Fisher
Slim Preston Goodson
Virginia Janie Hitchcock
Kate/Dorothy Katie Hutsenpillar
Vivian/Ellen Heidi Kloster
Gertie Rachel Lewis
Aunt Eller Eloise Maxey-Cunningham
Curly Grant McGowen
Ike Skidmore Glenn Nadel
Joe Randy Nunnally
Mike John Parker
Jud David Pylate
Laurey Bree Shannon-Cullens
Andrew Carnes David Stephens
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Chicks and Ducks and Geese better scurry!!
by line!
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I’m sorry to say this, but by the time this review is posted, Big Top’s production of “Oklahoma” will have closed. If you didn’t get to see it, you missed something special. I didn’t get to see it until its second to last performance Saturday night (7/29/06). It was a well deserved sold–out run!

“Oklahoma” is a staple of high schools and community theatre because it is a text-book definition of a “feel-good musicale”. That isn’t to say it is an easy show to produce. It still requires talent, creativity and hard work to leave the audience feeling good (instead of feeling sorry they came). Big Top assembled the talent, employed creativity and put in lots of hard work to leave the audience not only feeling good, but (according to the folks sitting near me in the audience) planning to come back for more!

This production featured a strong ensemble of talent, which, while not necessarily balanced, was cohesive, effective and entertaining. There were a number of very strong featured players, including David Pylate as Jud, Stephen Banks as Ali Hakim and Christy Lee Fisher as Ado Annie. Three folks in particular stood out for me: John Carucci as Will Parker, Bree Shannon-Cullens as Laurey, and “theatrical virgin” (meaning this was her first time on stage – not whatever you were thinking) Eloise Maxey-Cunningham as Aunt Eller - who positively stole the show. Although these folks stood out to me, that is not to say that the other featured players in the cast are anything to sneeze at! All were good.

In addition to the talent, the direction of the show by David Short was solid, fluid and allowed the actors to work within their comfort zone. The obvious joy all were having came across to the audience in abundance. There was a great use of the limited space available and it was done with an artistic flair and cleverness that I wish more shows would employ. The theater was configured in a sort of “football field” layout with the audience seated along the walls with the stage being down the middle of the room and in the “end zones”. Not quite theatre in the round, but sort of. Most of the show occurred in the “end zones”, while the dance numbers were on the “main playing field” around the “50-yard line” between the “stands”.

The set was very clever and employed two main pieces in the “end zones” that were rotated to provide different settings. In the "home team’s end zone", the exterior of Aunt Eller’s house rotated to become the exterior of a barn. While in the "opponent’s end zone", the exterior of Jud’s smoke house became the interior of the same. The ever present windmill was a wonderful addition that served no other purpose than to demonstrate “place”. The detail of the set design, dressing and construction added a layer of professional quality to this production that is not often seen at this level of community theatre.

The limitations of budget were most obvious in the pit. Musical accompaniment was provided solely by the very talented Annie Cook (who was also the show’s musical director).The occasional synthesized brass accompaniment added a kind of “cheapness” to the sound which I think it might have been better on piano alone (just one man’s opinion). Her arrangements and use of vocal talent in this show were superb! I never felt that anyone was out of their range or singing beyond their ability. She kept the weaker voices working in their “comfort zones” and while some were occasionally lacking the strength and grandeur expected in some of the more familiar songs, the singers never disappointed or faltered.

The only less than impressive part of the show, for me, was the choreography. It was competent, but came across as somewhat stilted and claustrophobic. The emotions that propel the characters into movement became stifled and were replaced by an awareness of the small space and the need to avoid tripping over anyone or anything in the front rows (on both sides of them). Choreography with such a large cast in such a small space is always difficult.

I like to review shows based on how well the production uses the resources available to them. Did they make the most of the talent, budget, space and script? Big Top’s impressive production of “Oklahoma” not only made the most of what they had to work with, they exceeded the audience’s expectations and left them wanting more!

yo line by feather
yo dog nice too see oklahoma got better after i seen it. and after going to see cobb theater in akworth, i admit oklahoma is better than i gave it in my review. but why give a grade of 5 if you know there are poor voices tyhat have to be hiddin and plus the chorography was lame? me guess you a nice guy or you soon will audition there or both!
Yo Fither (did I mispell?) by Cavendish
Evidently you are part of the minority who believe that a 5 is equal to perfection. No show is perfect and an alert reviewer will always be able to find something lacking....even on Broadway. A rating is based on the overall impression derived from many elements within the production. A performance can be lacking in one area but so strong in others that the positives outweigh the negatives. This is why theater is known as an art form and not science.

BTW, good for you for correcting yourself in re: Oklahoma. Attending many different theaters is one of the best ways to broaden your perspective.
wazup cavendish by feather
ok i can accpt that. and yeh spelling and tyhping on computers aint my thing :)
Like I said in the review... by line!
I grade productions on how well they use the resources they have. A show doesn't have to have the best talent in town, but if they know how to use the talent they have, they will definitely get a good review from me. Yes there were some weaker voices, but they were correctly, and skillfully I might add, minimized. A "5" from me does not mean the show was perfect, it means: I am indeed a nice guy, I enjoyed the performance, and I feel the show produced a result greater than the resources they had to work with. That's my criteria. I'd be curious to know what criteria others use in their reviews. But since a review is merely a statement of opinion, I guess it doesn't really matter.
It Does Matter (your opinion) by Cavendish
Rial, your opinion does matter. It matters very much. As long as you offer intelligent, insightful, and thoughtful reviews your opinion will always matter. Don't let the few on this site, especially the teenagers, discourage you. There's always the occasional poster (like the young girl who has posted frequently as of late) who only wants to praise her friends or theater, or the occasional jerk who only wants to tear down the efforts of others. If you truly care about theater your reviews will always matter. Keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing you grow as an actor and as a reviewer.

Oklahoma is a lot more than OK
by Bill Mann
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Having never done this before I'm sure my spelling etc will amuse most readers, but here goes. I have just seen "Oklahoma" at Big Top and it is the best production I have ever seen in community theater period. I have never seen so many happy audience members in my life. They were excited and a number were ready to buy season tickets for the upcomming season. The fact that my wife Gloria is on the Board of Directors of Big Top has nothing to do with my review, I would say the same about any production that this way about. The cast is excellent and tallented beyond belief. If I send in a review I will always sign my name.Getting back to the show, I loved every moment of it and its easy to see why they have had six sellouts and more comming.Thanks to the cast for a truly uplifting evening. I am Bill Mann and I say make your reservations now before all the performances are sold out. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
hey there! by Nettie
Hi Harry! :) Great to see ya post a review! (your friend with pink and blue hair)
Not enough bang for the buck$$$
by mediahound
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Big Top has done really fine. For a non-professional group at the helm, Wow.
But that non-professional, non educated, school of hard knocks know how, does come out in the production value. The value of college educations in the arts, theatre and drama in the leadership of a theatrical outfit does benefit not only the production quality but the audience. Don't get me wrong this show was very entertaining but when you charge admission that comes close to professionl companies' admissions, then the audience should get at least a semi-professional presentation.
The saving grace to this company is the talent and commitment of Rob Hadaway. He is funny, graceful, and his past professional career has afforded him a knowledge and expertise that shows in his work. This show has Rob's hand in it but the fact that he was not at the helm shows. The cast did not gel. Everybody did their own thing. There was not an ensemble cohesive feeling to the presentation. It looked like the director was merely a summer intern at the position. If this was his first try at directing it may have been better to start with a less complicated production. The director's lack of professionalism showed big time.
The show was like a church or school play but with thoses shows when you pay your money you know that it helps your school or church. I don't know who is benefiting by those high admission fees for community theatre but I was with 7 people and along with the expense on fuel from Midtown and admission we felt cheated. For the quality it should have cost $8 not $18.
Not enough bang for the buck [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
In response to your review by Trekkiemonstr
The $18 price tag goes towards a non-profit organization. There's not some greedy man reaping the benefits. It goes to support an organization that allows talented, and interested people to perform theatre as a hobby or as a way for training artists to gain experience. The admission price should be thought of more as a donation to a company that keeps the fine arts alive in our community as a form of entertainment, culture, and education.
very very ok
by feather
Thursday, July 13, 2006
my first time at bigtop, came to see a friend. i like the theare. they got a colorful lobby, friendly people, and a silly artistic director. now what about the performance? it is a very, very ok. honest its short on talent, but made up by lots of energy from the cast. yeh the leads are one dimensional, and their singing isnt all that great. but the enthusiasm of the cast is so high, i like the spirit. and two of the supporting actors, the street vender and the bad guy, are very, very good. oh and i liked the set. so I liked the show, ok? especially the title song production at the end, which the whole cast did very, very well. it sent chill bumps down my spines. but overall its like, you know, so very, very ok. like very, very high school ok. you know? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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