Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

A VIBRANT, exuberant production of Oklahoma! the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, is delighting audiences at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, until Sunday.

The show, directed by Russell Langdown, is another triumph for SALOS, a superb amateur company that has gone from strength since it was founded at the old Empire Theatre in 1952.

Members, with an enviable array of talent, are from a wide area, and all give strong performances. Judith Sharp is chorus mistress.

Set in the days before Oklahoma became one of the United States, the show incorporates life in a rural community of farmers, cowboys and local folk, whose rivalries and romances provide a strong storyline and some wonderful musical numbers.

Musical director is Malcolm Webb; the impressive choreography is by Gemma Short and the stage manager is Sarah Wrixon.

The large cast has fantastic song and dance numbers and excellent individual characterisations. Sarah Asprey is the kindly, authorative Aunt Eller. Frankie Le Bon is her lovely niece Laurey, whose would-be suitor Curly is played by James Canning.

Ellen Howard is Ado Annie; Kieran Jefferies is Will Parker and Sam Millard plays Gertie Cummins (the girl with the dreadful laugh) who ends up with the itinerant Persian pedlar Ali Hakim (a classic portrayal by Paul Dawkins).

Tony Asprey is Jud Fry, the reclusive, morose farmhand who yearns for romance with Laurey, and inhabits a grimy smokehouse (so cleverly contrived on stage). Ray Dance was in fine voice as Andrew Carnes.

The dream sequence, actually a nightmare for Laurey, as she takes a nap before going to the box social, has menacing overtones. But are her fears groundless? See this fabulous show to find out!

This Oklahoma! is truly unmissable.

Stella Taylor