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KATS - Oklahoma!

26th to 29th July 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Oklahoma! shows KATS is 'doin' fine'

KATS: Oklahoma! at Kennet School, Thatcham, from Tuesday; July 25, to Saturday July 29

Kennet School's hall and the area outside were transformed last week into the territory of Oklahoma, complete with straw bales, hot blue sky and elephant's eye high corn.

Taking us back to the days before Oklahoma became part of the Union, Rodgers & Hammerstein's great musical is full of brilliant songs and strong characters, and as such could be a challenge for amateur groups. In this highly enjoyable production, KATS rose well to the challenge, apart from one or two in the cast who seemed determined never to smile. Nevertheless, the very talented leads and the strong ensemble singing and dancing were enough to impress.

Jon Lovell was a "lovelley" Curly, strong and sensitive, equally sincere with Aunt Eller and with the object of his affections, Laurey, of whom more later.

Kevin Miller was a suitably sinister Jud Fry, and Mandy Cole the no-nonsense Aunt Eller.

David Richardson as the pedlar All Hakim displayed great comic timing and Jo Dunwell's cameo from the chorus was enchanting.

Siouxsie Ashmore's Ado Annie was exuberant and great fun, and Andy Pocock as her beau Will Parker was equally full of joie de vivre. This partnership was definitely a bonus, the two characters complementing each other perfectly, as did the two principals, Curly and Laurey.

As Laurey, Claire Helyer was an absolute delight, with a beautiful soprano voice, the like of which you don't hear much nowadays, but which is perfect for the songs in this show. Not only can she sing (and dance), but she is also a strong actress, and there was a real chemistry between her and Curley.

As with the other principals, all of whom sang well and had a real presence on stage, we really cared about them and wanted everything to turn out right which, in the end, it did.

Despite occasional problems of tuning in the band, and the overall sound balance, which meant that some of the solos and parts of the dialogue were hard to hear over the music, this was a really good show.

As they sang in the title song, KATS is "doin' fine!"