February 22, 2020
CAP gives its young artists a challenging journey to Oklahoma
By John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
When folks hear that CAP is a teaching theatre, they immediately think, “ah, yes, they are teaching the participating students about performing.” That is just the tip of the creative iceberg, the “CAP,” if you will. Their belief statement provides a clearer understanding of what is happening with participants: “We believe all children have a right to understand the world around them and their place in it. We believe all children have a voice to be heard and an idea to offer. We challenge your children to be confident, expressive and genuine. We just happen to do children’s theatre.”
Participating students, through the allure of theatre, are introduced to learning lifelong positive attributes, such as discipline, teamwork, perseverance, building skills, and more. The learning spills over to the parents, friends and families. These adult enablers are intricate parts of each production, helping direct, crew, construct, usher, manage and otherwise provide the bigger framework for the show. Teaching continues to the audience, as the energy within this intimate, friendly performing venue is palpable. Audiences understand the genuine buy-in for this safe haven of creative processing. And, they walk away from each show with an appreciation for such a worthy program.
These insights will help first-timers to CAP enhance their experience, and likely begin their own relationship with this unique organization. That’s why producing a show such as Oklahoma! is noteworthy. While this adaptation is pared down from the full-blown, darker musical that took Broadway by storm in 1943, it still is challenging for young artists. During the height of World War II, this show gave its then record-breaking audiences a much-needed escape from the realities of their time. America has continued this musical love affair for over 75 years.
While this version shortens the songs, even removes some songs, and doesn’t include the ultimate come-uppance for Jud, it does give its young charges the opportunity to explore an iconic musical storyline, complete with its messages, prejudices and stereotypes. CAP’s Oklahoma! is filled with 100% committed performers and their support team in giving its audiences many delightful glimpses of budding talent and confidence. Director Rusk Dorsett leverages both theatrical experience and a conscientious development of his young cast in bringing a lively show to the stage.
Noteworthy performances were delivered by several. Isaiah Wing gives us a cocky braggart, Curly, a good counter to the feisty Laurey played by Paige Gossard. As Aunt Eller, the poised Tatum Murphy delivers with fine comic timing and energy. Ethan Smith as Will Parker swaggers enough to finally capture the heart of the fickle Ado Annie (played nicely by Claire Hintz), whose wandering eye had landed on the dandy peddler, Ali Hakim (brought to shyster life by Nick Meredith). William Brown creates a brooding presence with his Jud, and the Gertie Cummings laugh that will be remembered long past the final bow was delivered with grating perfection by Marianna Hintz. The rest of the ensemble often sweeps onto stage with effective force, bolstering those scenes.
Pull the children away from the electronics, and give them the gift of a shared, live performing arts experience. For any parent, grandparent or good friend, enjoy the vicarious journey to a musical, imaginary world that will leave a lasting smile on everyone’s face. Take a dusty stroll on the plains of Oklahoma.
The Culture Buzz theatre reviews are written by professional critics, to inform and enlighten. To receive weekly newsletters, email TheCultureBuzz@gmail.com or visit www.theculturebuzz.com. The Culture Buzz is a weekly broadcast/streaming arts & entertainment show, airing Wednesdays 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Central Time on KFMG 98.9 FM and streaming at www.kfmg.org.