By Anna Holloway
“Some Enchanted Evening” at Lyric Theatre offers five strong, young voices and two brilliant pianists offering many favorite songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musicals.
The songs in Act I are designed as dialogs and interactions, and in Act II as reflections and soliloquies. They require strong singers, two men and three women, each of whom must be able to really “sell” a song.
In the Lyric’s performance, Jamie Buxton as “Nellie,” Dallas Lish as “Billy,” Heather Geery as “Anna,” Ethan Spell as “Will,” and Melissa Griffith as “Julie” gave us that experience.
The show is staged to open at a rehearsal, with a stage manager and crew moving things around as the singers gather in street clothes and take us through the first few songs. This comfortable and relaxed opening allows us to get into the music without the burden of formal expectations. At the end of this first section, each performance features a short visit with a different performer from Lyric Theatre’s fifty-year history. In addition to allowing the Oklahoma City audience to revisit some of the theatre’s past, this little cameo allows the cast to change into formal attire for the rest of the show, bringing us the high production values we have come to expect from Lyric.
Rodgers, whose music often explores the lower end of a vocal range, can be a real challenge for tenors. Lish, who has a strong dark tenor, still had to use all the technique at his command to handle the Jud Fry soliloquy, “Lonely Room” from “Oklahoma,” which he did very well.
Spell, a slightly lighter tenor voice, gave us a soaring rendition of “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” and a charming “Everything’s Up to Date…” from “Oklahoma.”
The women were, rather stereotypically, blonde, brunette, and redhead. Griffith, a classically trained soprano with a lovely voice, adapted beautifully to the Broadway technique that Rodgers demands, and delivered all of her numbers flawlessly. Geery, the brunette, gave us gutsy and effective versions of “I Cain’t Say No” and “Love Look Away,” and Buxton carried us away with “Cockeyed Optimist.”
These are only a few of the high points. There is lovely comic byplay among the actors in several places, as songs are linked to one another in little “scenes” on stage. Three strong medleys, involving the whole company, also give us some glorious harmonies.
The technical aspects of theatre, when done right, are never apparent to the audience and so are often under appreciated. “Some Enchanted Evening” includes two very talented pianists who are fully present and almost invisible in their musical skill, Mary Brozina and Brian Hamilton (who also serves as Music Director for the production). In the usually unseen position of production stage manager, Julie Meyer ran the show flawlessly.
“Some Enchanted Evening” celebrates Lyric Theatre’s 50th Anniversary year and offers a lovely evening of golden age musical theatre. Take the time to enjoy this tribute to American class musical theatre, and to a great local theatre’s fifty years of excellence.
Lyric on the Plaza, 1727 NW 16th street, Tues-Thurs at 7:30, Fri-Sat at 8:00, and Sat-Sun at 2:00 through February 16. Check www.lyrictheatreokc.com for ticket information and a list of the special guest cameos scheduled.