Friday, August 14, 2009

Top Attraction

I've been to Discoveryland! to see Oklahoma! a couple of times and I've seen the movie and other productions of the play more times than I can count. So, while I knew I'd have a nice evening, I wasn't really expecting to be so swept away by the whole experience. Needing photos for a future assignment, this was just another job.
My friend Bev Schmoyer and I were guests of Discoveryland! founder Bill Jeffers. He treated us to the ultimate evening -- dinner, dessert, popcorn, soft drinks, all the pre-show activities, the Territory Review before the main production, and the musical. The dinner was tasty -- I had the chopped beef sandwich and Bev had the rib-eye steak sandwich. These were accompanied by corn, potato salad, baked beans and garnishes.
We visited with Bear O'Field, a Cherokee-Creek Indian, who danced for visitors and watched the Pony Express ride off with post cards purchased at the Trading Post. Then we got our dessert -- ice cream topped with strawberries -- yum!
Before the regular show starts, there's a variety show with lots of singing and dancing. Hmmm, those singers were really good and the dancing was skilled and enthusiastic -- actually extraordinarily good. I was getting an interesting vibe -- this evening was becoming more than I expected.

Next came the Overture. Discoveryland! doesn't have an orchestra -- they use recorded music but the system is top-notch and the sound was just fine. Carol Lavelle Snow as Aunt Eller came on stage and eased us into Oklahoma Territory. Coming through the trees and over a bridge, Eli Budwill -- Curly -- rode onto the stage and began the beautiful "Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'."
Tall, good-looking, and great voice -- definitely above the average. And the play just got better and better.

I'd bet this cast and this production would be comfortable on Broadway or in London's West End. Yes, I'd seen the play before but Eli, Ally Ridley (Laurey), Carly Casey (Ado Annie), Levi Lawson (Jud Fry) and the rest of the cast made the production fresh and new. As my grandkids would say -- they owned it!

After the show, we met some of the cast members -- five of them are students at the University of Central Oklahoma in the Music Theatre Department, and one, Brett Rottmayer, is a graduate of the school. Auditions are held in many areas of the country and competition to appear at Discoveryland! is keen. These UCO performers aren't here because they're local but because they're so good.

Bev and I had a great evening and what started as sort of a duty quickly became a real treat. Thank you Bill Jeffers, all the friendly people at Discoveryland! and especially the talented cast for a memorable evening. Saturday night is the last show of the season. I wish I'd come earlier so I could come again this year! But I will be visiting again in the future -- and I'll be bringing more friends. Friends don't let friends miss Discoveryland!

1 comment:

Eli'sfan said...

I totally agree! Eli is not only talented by georgeous! (Yes, I have a massive crush on him.) I spoke to him and he told me he didn't think he'd be back again next season and now "my heart is busted in too" as the Pedler says is Oklahoma. I'm still in the depths of dispair. He really IS talented by the way. I could listen to him sing all day long. Oh, to have been Laurey for the past 3 months!