- July 31, 2019
Award-winning performer Josie Lawrence is making her debut at Chichester Festival Theatre in the spectacular summer musical, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
With its glorious score and spirit of exuberant optimism, it’s the American musical by which all others are judged. Among the unforgettable songs are Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’, The Surrey With The Fringe On Top and the show-stopper Oklahoma.
With its glorious score and spirit of exuberant optimism, it’s the American musical by which all others are judged
Handsome cowboy Curly McLain is head over spurs for local farm owner Laurey Williams. But lonely ranch-hand Jud Fry has his sinister sights set on her too.
And Laurey’s not the only girl with cowboy problems. Ado Annie’s beau Will Parker is back from chasing steers in Kansas City, where he won the fifty dollars her father insists Will must have to marry her. But this irrepressible farm girl won’t be bought quite so easily.
Luckily for this love-struck crew of spirited ranchers and broncobusters, wise Aunt Eller is riding ahead of the herd. Hailed for her comedy improvisations on TV’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? – as well as innumerable appearances on series such as EastEnders and Humans – Josie Lawrence is a dizzyingly versatile performer whose stage work ranges from Shakespeare to classic and contemporary dramas at the RSC, National Theatre and West End. But she had no hesitation about accepting the role of Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!
‘Years ago I took over from Elaine Paige in The King and I at the Palladium’, she explains. ‘There’s something special about Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals; I remember when I first heard the orchestra play The King and I in rehearsals, I just burst into tears because the sound of those songs are just so wonderful. I get it again when the first bars of Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ begin.’
I like that our director, Jeremy Sams, wants Aunt Eller to have some real chutzpah. She’s the respected head of this community and a lady you don’t mess with.
‘It was my birthday in the first week of rehearsals,’ Josie adds. ‘I turned 60, and to be playing Aunt Eller with all these very energetic, young, wonderful actors around me in this brilliant place, is a wonderful position to be in my career. I’m looking forward to it so much!’
Oklahoma! runs at Chichester Festival Theatre until 7 September – 01243 781312 or www.cft.org.uk