I stand in awe of the combination of skills needed to perform the American musical well. While a voice which is less than perfect may be usable, even good, the acting must be convincing, and the dancing cannot in any way seem labored or “almost there.” In the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Oklahoma there was a textbook example of how to do this in the person of Chasten Harmon who played Ado Annie. This young woman convinced me that she sang because she had to sing, and she danced because she had to dance, and all of this flowed along as a single narrative, without bumping. It justified the form and showed that the modes work together to make a kind of super language which can go off in any direction at any time.
For lovers of the American musical theatre there is no better reason for goose bumps than a large cast of energetic performers strutting toward the footlights singing the title song of Oklahoma!. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein set up this moment perfectly with a short, vocal solo followed by the full orchestra playing an eight note scale. Finally we hear the one-note crescendo and the familiar melody.