Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Tika Moon

The production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Oklahoma, now playing at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, preserves some of its darker origins. The musical is based on the play Green Grow The Lilacs by Lynn Riggs in which a hired farmhand, Jeeter Fry, plays a man troubled by violence and repressed perversion. The musical usually downplays this dark character. But director Gene Abravaya emphasizes Fry, played skillfully by Jon Rathjen, thereby heightening the dramatic tension and contrasting the comic characters into greater comic relief. The result is a well-rounded drama – a balance between dark and light.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun musical with memorable songs like Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ and The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top, and Ado Annie (Tiffany Claire) is a real hoot, especially when she sings I Cain’t Say No! But even though everything turns out positive, it is that dark dissonant cord, echoing through the entire show, that adds interest and realism.

There are some fine voices in the cast, a live orchestra and some pretty fancy dance steps thanks to choreographer Nina Raggio. Warning! There are several gunshots that could have a traumatic effect if you’re not prepared for them. According to cast member Peter Downey, they were going for a “Shane effect,” which translates to the loudest bang they could get for their gunshots.

For tickets or more information call (707) 523-4185 or visit www.6thstreet playhouse.com.

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