I saw Oklahoma again tonight. Full OBC, I think. They were filming it for the archives.
Rather than review the whole thing I'll just talk about the cast members I didn't see last time.
I thought Rebecca Naomi Jones was better than her understudy but still wasn't 100% in the part. She managed the vocals better but I think another actress could have done an even better job. Even with the keys lowered, her belt was kind of off and she was having trouble negotiating the high notes. Sometimes she found them in the belt and sometimes she sang them very quietly. Sometimes it was more like talk-singing and sometimes she sang them more legit. Even with the keys lowered, I don't think she has the range, at least not where she could easily pop up to the high notes. She wasn't one of the actors who figured out how to make the country-style vocals work for her. Actually, having seen her I think it was a choice to have Laurey have less of an accent than the others. There's nothing in the text but it does make her stand out a little as somewhat more ladylike or educated or upper class if there was such a thing. Of course there's nothing in the text to suggest she had an education or that she and Aunt Eller had any more money than the others. I feel like compared to her understudy, she had a much clearer preference for Curly. I was watching very closely and even at the dance, she is dancing with Jud but she doesn't look at him a lot and keeps gravitating towards other partners or making eyes at Curly. I did think a lot of the light choreo made much more sense with Rebecca. It's clearly something she helped develop and/or something that's more lived in for her. I don't know what those reviews about her stomping around being angry were about. The only stomping comes in the dancing. The rest of the time, it's pretty clear that she is attracted to Curly but spurning him because he's too proud to come out and say that he likes her. He's always softpedaling or giving her backhanded compliments. She just wants him to treat her well. I didn't really sense her having bigger aspirations than being pretty and finding love/passion and then settling down to have a family. And when Jud dies, she felt more complicit than her understudy in this production's decision to make it seem like an overt cover up. That goes along with her being less affectionate towards Jud than her understudy.
I still found the portrayal of Jud interesting for the same reasons but he was slightly less sympathetic/compelling as a character when Laurey didn't seem to reciprocate his feelings at all.
Ali Stroker was good but I don't know why she got a Tony Award. Like Damon and Mary Testa, she really figured out how to negotiate the score using a country twang. But she also has more facility with her upper range than Rebecca. It's more natural for her to belt and still manage the high notes. Credit where it's due, she sang very well. However, her performance was very broadly comedic. I don't think she's really improved as an actress since The Glee Project. It was all very one-note. The other actors were just at a different level. There was more subtlety and depth and sophistication to their performances. It's not just about them having more interesting characters. Her face just didn't register that much, especially reacting to a scene partner. It stood out in comparison to the other actors who have no trouble reacting when they aren't the driving force in the scene and/or have no dialogue.
I think I like the other Ali Hakim I saw better. I don't like the character or his songs/dialogue regardless but the other actor was less annoying.
I still hate the dance. I talked to another audience member who said this dancer originated the dance. I suppose she was a little more natural but the choreography is still nonsense. It's too unfocused to communicate anything. Every time you think it might be suggesting something, it fails to come to a satisfying conclusion.