I have never watched The Proms. I have barely watched BBC Four. But combine those with an absolute humdinger of a Musical and I’m there!
The Proms is an eight week summer season of classical concerts housed in the iconic Royal Albert Hall since 1941. The newly named Diamond Jubilee steps lead up to this beautiful building that wears a circular crown encrusted with an 800 foot long mosaic. Inside, the delicately crafted auditorium seats more than 5000 people, making this the ideal location for such grand performances.
This, unbelievably, was Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s first collaboration hitting the stage in 1943. Set in 1906 it follows the ‘will they or won’t they’ love story between a suave cowboy and stubborn farm girl. This is coupled with a love triangle between a frisky girl, honest boy and sleazy salesman.
However, it’s not all slap your knees happy. There is quite a dark undertone as a dangerous outcast falls for the farm girl and becomes more and more obsessive. David Seadon-Young gave the dark, intense and chilling performance, rivalling that of those you see in movies. My favourite by far. I was transfixed.
The story unfolded in a minimalist set; probably the truest meaning of the word. A washing line here, hay wagon there and rocking chair to top off the western look. The long thin screen that circled the stage showed corn fields at night and day, adding a nice touch. Who needs millions of pounds for an extravagant set ay?!
What makes this musical extra special, is that they performed the full uncut score. This allowed for an EPIC 14 minute dream sequence to close Act One. It’s a pivotal moment where true love is realised through the beautiful mix of ballet, jazz and a well choreographed fight scene. The choreography on a whole was imaginative, quirky and refreshing. It injected killer energy and personality into the show.
It was also a treat to see the live orchestra conducted by John Wilson take the spotlight. Usually they’re hidden in the bowels of the stage, maybe a conductors head poking out… but having them visible only celebrated the importance and harmony of live music and musicals.
I had a rootin’ tootin’ time watching Oklahoma! The performance perfectly captured the magic of musicals. A true trail blazer for The Proms. I only hope they continue to push the boundaries.
Catch some of the clips on BBC Four. You don’t want to miss it.
Have you seen the musical? What about the proms?
Photo credits: Royal Albert Hall, Visit London, Mark Allan