Bright golden haze at Westlands

YEOVIL Amateur Operatic Society members take to the stage at Westlands on 19th March in the company’s fourth production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s immortal musical Oklahoma!

Set at the time when Oklahoma changed from being part of the Western Territories to become a state, it’s a sort of reverse image of America today. As the showstopper song says, the Farmer and the Cowman should be friends, working together to make their lives better. Now deep and unreasoning divisions between the two sides of American society threaten to tear apart this land of opportunity which was known as the land of the free, and we in the UK need to be very wary of following in the footsteps of our “American cousins.”

Enough politics – at Yeovil, director and choreographed Sheila Driver and her musical director Jessamy Bowditch have been rehearsing with the talented and energetic cast for months, and are putting the finishing touches to the production, which runs to Saturday 23rd March.

There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow when the curtain comes up, as Laurey (Amy McIntosh) sits on the farm porch with her aunt Eller (Ali Enticott) waiting for the arrival of the handsome cowboy Curley (Nick Harris). But in the background there is the dark and dangerous farmhand Jud Fry (played by Luke Whitchurch), also in love with Laurey and nursing a burning hatred for any rivals. Will Parker (Will Poulton) has just returned from Kansas City to claim his girl, Ado Annie (Leah Driver) – the girl who cain’t say no. And she hasn’t said no to the pedlar Ali Hakim (Nick Toop).

The stage is set for romantic entanglements, spirited old varmints, lots of singing and dancing and ending with a feel-good chorus of hope for the future. The songs are all instantly-hummable classics that generation after generation of fans of musicals have taken to their hearts and their memories.

The YAOS cast also includes several company stalwarts, as well as eager and versatile newcomers, all ready to entertain packed houses at Westlands as the decisions about the Octagon’s refurbishment are kicked into the long grasses of the financial crisis for Somerset Council.

Performances are at 7.30 nightly, with a 2.30 Saturday matinee. For more details, see the Westlands website.

(Rehearsal photographs)

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