Going to see Oklahoma! at the Wycombe Swan tonight? Check out Sandra Carter's review before you go.

Oh what a golden oldie! Oklahoma canters into town bringing all the songs, atmosphere, characters and drama that made it a huge success when it hit Broadway in 1943. The first collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein, it changed the history of musicals ever since.

 And this week at The Swan, it’s easy to see why. When the winsome cowboy Curly strides into the farmyard singing ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’, I realise this song has been a background ditty throughout my life – I’m quite likely to find myself humming it when drawing back the curtains on a fine sunny day.

 This is the ultimate feelgood show, with bright songs, larger-than-life characters, a fascinating setting (though no one would want to endure the rigours of Oklahoma rural life in 1906 with hardy settler farmers in conflict with cowmen), pretty dresses, strange hide trousers, and romance in the air.

 Curly (Ashley Day) sings of his hopes of love, Aunt Eller (Belinda Lang) thrusts her washing dolly into the barrel before putting the clothes through the mangle, the lovely but unromantic Laurey hangs out the washing while spurning Curly, and we’re into small town life, with various other romantic entanglements to come.

 There’s a darker side to the story, which I can’t imagine being written into a musical today. Jud the farmhand, admirably played by Nic Greenshields, is disturbed, none-too-bright, with sexually fantasies and obsessed with Laurey. She’s scared of him. And Curly doesn’t come out too well when he goes to Jud’s smokehouse shack and plants the idea that Jud could hang himself so that everyone would speak well of him.

 A darker side also comes through in Laurey’s dream, brought on by a potion from a peddler (a lovely performance by the affable Gary Wilmot). In a long scary song and dance sequence, she is torn between her attraction to both Curly and Jud, with the nightmare outcome of being forced to go with the obsessive Jud.

 Then we’re back to the lighthearted social dance that the story has been leading up to, and discovering who wins which girl in this little community.

 The singing is wonderful, with Charlotte Wakefield and Ashley Day being superb and all the cast brilliant. The songs are of course memorable: ‘People will say we’re in love’; ‘The surrey with the fringe on top’; ‘Kansas City’.The set is imaginative, all wooden barn frames and bales of hay. The musicians in the pit deserve a special mention as they keep the music rolicking along.

 The Midwest and musicals may have changed beyond recognition over the last 70 years, but it’s still a delight to return to those early days of musical magic.

Oklahoma! continues at the Wycombe Swan until Saturday August 8.