A lively production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous musical Oklahoma! ran at Loreto College Coleraine throughout the week beginning 17th October 2022. These wonderful performances brightened up the dark October evenings and it was wonderful for the College to be able to stage its first production since the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the leading roles of Laurey and Curley, Year 14 students Ellie Dillon and Lorcan Calvert were absolutely outstanding, combining beautiful singing voices with superb acting. Ellie and Lorcan brought their characters to life and made the love story between them both touching and convincing.
A comic foil to Laurey and Curley is the humorous sub-plot of Ado Annie and her two suitors, Will Parker and Ali Hakim. In the role of Ado Annie, Cora McEwan (Year 14) combined comic timing and witty delivery of her lines in a stunning, lively performance. Alternating in the role of Will Parker, both Peter McCool (Year 14) and Ruairi Kelly (Year 12) combined fine acting and singing, both bringing out the devoted decency and good humour of the character. As Ali Hakim, Frankie Pollington (Year 14) brought the house down every night with his combination of physical comedy and comic timing.
No show is complete without a ‘bad guy’, and Jud Fry performs this role in Oklahoma! In the role of Jud, Harry Bucukoglu (Year 14) was menacing, watchful, and deeply misunderstood; he had a magnetic stage presence in all scenes in which he appeared, and his singing was quite spine-chilling in his famous solo ‘In A Lonely Room’.
Laurey’s Aunt Eller is in almost every scene, and Hannah-Ruth Mullan (Year 13) made this role her own, in a well-judged portrayal of the slightly eccentric figurehead of the community, loved and respected by all and with an occasionally seen pathos of her own. Alongside Aunt Eller are a few other ‘older’ characters: Andrew Carnes was played with an understated, brilliantly judged humour, by Oran Tosh (Year 14), while Ike was portrayed with lively enthusiasm by Conor McCloskey (Year 14).
As a rival for the love, first of all of Curley, then of Ali Hakim, Gertie Cummings is known for her outlandish and idiosyncratic laugh. Amelie Millar (Year 12) brought life and a real sense of fun to this role, and developed an echoing laugh which could prove challenging for audiences to forget!
Oklahoma! featured a wonderful chorus, composed of approximately sixty students drawn from Years 9-14, which performed some of the show’s famous songs in a lively, rousing and truly outstanding manner. There were many cameo performances within the chorus, and some vocal solos, smaller ensembles, and memorable dance routines- perhaps most notably from some of the youngest cast members, Year 9 students Eva-Marie Kane and Dean McCool, who starred as leads in the dream sequence ballet which closed Act 1.
Behind the scenes of Oklahoma! was a dedicated team of staff members and students, working on stage management, props, costumes, lighting and sound, while the band (which included a few Loreto College students and staff members) added to the impact of the music.
Oklahoma! was directed by Loreto College’s Head of Drama, Mrs Oonah McEwan, with Musical Direction by Head of Music Mr Brendan McCann, and choreography by Mrs Venessa Chapman. This outstandingly talented team led a wide range of staff members who helped out in very many ways in all aspects of the show’s production: lighting, sound, costumes, props, stage management, fundraising, programme, publicity, supervision, and the organisation and logistics of many long rehearsals and evening performances.
The capacity audiences who watched Oklahoma! throughout its performance week greeted the show with appreciative ovations; on the final night of the run, Loreto College Principal Mr Stephen Gallagher paid tribute to everyone- students, staff members and visiting staff members- who had been involved in such a memorable and outstanding production, as well as thanking the many sponsors of the production for their tremendous generosity.
Oklahoma! had last been performed in Loreto College in 2003: everyone, including some former students and staff members who had been involved in the 2003 production and had returned to see the 2022 performances, agreed that musical theatre is alive and well, post-pandemic, in Loreto College. Oklahoma! 2022 was an outstanding, lively and heart-warming highlight of the Autumn term. Huge congratulations to everyone who was involved.