Goodspeed Puts On A Youthful, Vibrant ‘Oklahoma!’ – Connecticut News

Goodspeed Puts On A Youthful, Vibrant ‘Oklahoma!’ – Connecticut News

There are plenty of history books and scholarly articles that will tell you how important “Oklahoma!” is to the development of American musical theater.

At Goodspeed, you just have to see it to know.

The 1943 musical — which famously had a pre-Broadway tryout at the Shubert Theater in New Haven under its original title “Away We Go!” — has a cracking good story, a hit-packed score and a justly renowned dance sequence that fuels the plot and refreshes the whole show midway through.

The Goodspeed Opera House’s “Oklahoma!” (extended through Sept. 27) shakes the dust out of the barn and tosses those cowboy hats high.

This is a youthful, frantic, vibrant version of a musical that in the wrong hands can be sappy and operatic. Director Jenn Thompson has found a contemporary edge to a story set in 1906, before Oklahoma was even a state. She pushes the character’s ambitions, braggadocio and brazen recklessness to the fore. The reckless risk-taking and one-upmanship shown here could fuel a modern big-business drama as easily as it does this quaint tale of cowpokes and farmers looking for love and security.

After a cheery entrance walking down the aisle of the auditorium while crooning about what a beautiful morning it is, Rhett Guter settles into a chipper yet interestingly moody portrayal of Curly. (Guter rocked the Goodspeed as Conrad Birdie in “Bye Bye Birdie” a year ago). It’s as if Guter is channeling…

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