This past Sunday, I attended the season-closing performance of OKLAHOMA! at the Muny in Forest Park.
The Muny magic is real (I mean, just LOOK at that photo!), and was incredibly evident in this sumptuous, tight production led by Rob Ruggiero.
Christine Cornish Smith was a totally invested, utterly believable Laurey. Beth Leavel was a stand-out Aunt Eller, and clear audience favorite.
The supporting trio of Alexander Gemignani, Clyde Alves, and Jenni Barber assayed their roles perfectly, although hearing a tenor sing Judd was a bit off-putting at first.
After some first-few-minute kerfuffles in the trumpets in particular, the orchestra was as tight and evocative as I’ve heard all season.
Susan Stroman’s choreography, restaged by Ginger Thatcher, was simply divine. And so very, very clean and precise.
The Muny does these kinds of shows so well. They fill the stage with activity. The give us spectacle. They bring on horses when we don’t expect them. They don’t suggest a house-raising, but they actually raise a house.
And then we get this show, with hit number after hit number in one long parade, but also with little details such as the way that Aunt Eller looked over her shoulder during “Surrey with the fringe,” surely one of the finest moments in the show. And we get that last picture of the newly-married couple riding off into the sunset.
And we get “Auld lang syne” as the final send-off, with tears hot on my cheeks.