ONE of Rodgers and Hammerstein's timeless classics Oklahoma! is being brought to the Theatre Royal Winchester next week by Winchester Amateur Operatic Society with sponsorship by local car dealer Hendy Ford.

Based on the play Green Grow the Lilies by Lynn Riggs it was set at a time when Oklahoma state was still known as Indian Territory.

Universally thought of as a jolly yarn packed with memorable songs such as Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' and People Will Say We're in Love, it does have a much darker thread running throughout.

Jud Fry (Clive Burgess) is a hired hand on Aunt Eller's (Liz Petley-Jones) farm. A man with a shady past, his aim is to ensnare Laurey's (Katie Moffat) hand, but her bethrothed Curly (Iain Steel) will have none of that!

Meanwhile Ado Annie (Suzanne Hall) is playing fast and loose with Will Parker's (Daniel Hickson) affections.

For leading lady Liz Petley-Jones, who has been performing with the society since 1975, this is her second time in the hit musical. She says: "I played Ado Annie in 1983 and now a few years on I'm Aunt Eller."

Liz, 57, a teacher at Shakespeare Junior School in Eastleigh, is no stranger to playing feisty leading ladies.

The talented singer has chalked up some plum roles including Calamity in Calamity Jane, Golda in Fiddler on the Roof, Dolly in Hello Dolly, Eliza in My Fair Lady and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare.

"I do seem lucky to play such forceful characters," she adds.

Theatre Royal Winchester, Tuesday to Saturday, November 20. Tickets: from £10. Box office: 01962 844040.