View Our Facebook PageView Our Facebook PageView Our Facebook Page
Your Guide to Cultural
Arts in America
Art Museums, Theater, Dance
& Music Happenings in 90+ Cities!
or go to
Arts America Blogs


The Wick Theatre presents the musical Oklahoma! based on the 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs, by author Lynn Riggs.  In 1943 Oklahoma! was the first musical written by composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II.  It marked a revolution in musical drama by introducing a number of new storytelling elements and techniques. Most important are its use of song and dance to further the plot, and define the characters, rather than act as diversions from the storyline. A special Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for Oklahoma! in the category of “Special Awards And Citations – Letters” in 1944.

Oklahoma! is set in the Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, on the verge of Oklahoma’s statehood. It revolves around the story of a cowboy named Curly McLain (Ian Parmenter) and his romance with Laurey Williams (Lindsey Bliven), who lives on a farm with her Aunt Eller (Missy McArdle). Conflict arises with the unwanted advances of the Williams’ surly and slightly sinister farmhand Jud Fry (Shane Tanner) toward Laurey. A secondary romance exists between Laurey’s flirtatious friend Ado Annie (Leah Sessa) and the likeable, but dim-witted, Will Parker (Alex Jorth). The secondary pair’s romance is threatened by the attentions of a smooth-talking traveling salesman named Ali Hakim (James Young). In addition to all this is the growing conflict between the farmers and the cowmen as they fight over control of the natural resources of the land around them.

This production at The Wick Theatre is Oklahoma! in the grand style in which it is intended.  They make good use of the entire breadth of the stage, tying in projection art to complement the settings of each scene.  A full ensemble provides the sights and sounds of this musical as well.  It’s a pleasure to see a full traditional chorus in some of the songs such as “many a New Day”, and the beautifully balletic “Dream Sequence”.  Crisp lighting and costuming flesh out the show pleasantly.

Ian Parmenter as Curly has an easy masculine presence and polished singing voice.  He doesn’t play some of his comic moments fully however, such as in the scene containing the song  “Pore Jud is Daid”, in which Curly knows full well he is playfully (but dangerously) poking fun at Jud.  Parmenter oddly plays the whole scene straight. Lindsey Bliven as Laurie is not quite as polished vocally.  Though indeed Laurie is but a teenager, a few of her acting moments come off overly callow.  Together Parmenter and Bliven manage to capture the iconic musical theatre figures of Curly and Laurie.

Alex Jorth is sweet as Will Parker, and dances his way nicely through the song “Kansas City”.  He needs to play up the sweet but dumb aspect of his character as it makes Will far funnier, especially in his scenes with the street smart Ali Hakim.  Jorth is well paired with Leah Sessa as Ado Annie.  Sessa’s performance is the strongest in the cast.  Her Ado Annie is pretty, funny, happy, confused by her hormones, and chock full of energy.  She delivers a wonderful performance in what can be an inherently stale role. 

Shane Tanner is utterly convincingly as the creepy and menacing stalker/ranch hand Jud Fry.  His rich baritone singing voice perfectly suited to the song “Lonely Room”. Missy McArdle is endearingly crusty as Aunt Eller.  Wick Theatre has done a lovely job with a musical cast aside by many professional theatres because of the expense and staging/costuming difficulty of a large cast.  It is a treat to see justice done to an old classic form the Golden Age of American Musical Theatre.

The original production of Oklahoma! opened at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in March 1943 under the title Away We Go!. After some rewrites, the freshly renamed Oklahoma! made its Broadway debut at the St. James Theatre on March 31, 1943. The production closed on May 29, 1948, after 2,212 performances. It was followed by a record-setting ten-year national tour.  A 1951 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! ran for 100 performances at The Broadway Theatre. A second revival in 1979 at the Palace Theatre ran for 293 performances and received two Tony Award Nominations. In 2002, the National Theatre production (which ran in London at the Olivier Theatre in 1998) opened on Broadway at the George Gershwin Theatre, closing on February 23, 2003, after 388 performances. This production received eight Tony Award nominations and eight Drama Desk Award nominations. The well-known film version of Oklahoma! was released in 1955 starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.

Together, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, Cinderella, State Fair, Flower Drum Song, Me And Juliet, Allegro and Pipe Dream. Among their many accolades are thirty-four Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and two Grammy Awards. While the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein have been described by some as antiquated and lacking in appeal to the contemporary audience, it should be noted that they not only wrote memorable melodies and poetic lyrics, but fearlessly addressed topics 50 years ago that are controversial even by today’s standards. They gave us a villain in Oklahoma! who indulges in dark, antisocial behavior linked to his fixation on pornography, domestic violence in Carousel, and racism in South Pacific.

Oklahoma! is scheduled to appear at the Wick Theatre April 2 – 26, 2015. For more information you may contact them by phone at 561-955-2333, 561-955-2333 or online at  The Wick Theatre & Costume Museum is located at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. It houses a professional, 330-seat theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors, the Broadway Collection Costume Museum, and the Wick Tavern – open for lunch or dinner.


Curly McLain: Ian Parmenter*

Laurey Williams: Lindsey Bliven*

Will Parker: Alex Jorth*

Ado Annie: Leah Sessa

Aunt Eller: Missy McArdle

Jud Fry: Shane Tanner

Ali Hakim: James Young*

Andrew Carnes: Troy Stanley

Ike Skidmore: Chris Brand

Gertie Cummings: Janet Wiggins

Cord Elam/Marshall: James Channing

Ensemble: Lauren Bell, Lindsay Bell, Gail Byer, Ryan Brown, Brian DiRito, Laura Gill, Lindsey Johr, Tommy Joscelyn, Amelia Millar, Joanna Perry, Megan Sell, Pierre Tannous, Brian Varela and Janet Wiggins



Director/Choreographer: Norb Joerder

Musical Director: Michael Ursua

Scenic Design: Ryan Howell

Projection Design: Brittany Merenda

Lighting Design: Joseph Oshry

Costume Design: Njaye Olds

Hair and Wig Design: Mark Balli

Stage Manager: Brandy DeMil*


*Designates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.