Simply put, Oklahoma! is perhaps one of the most iconic musicals, not just in the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon, but in Broadway history. The musical marks the first collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, bursting onto the scene with a 1943 Broadway premiere that swiftly became a box office sensation and ran for a grand total of 2,212 performances. It was also awarded a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944. Since then, the musical has enjoyed no less than five Broadway revivals, including the current critically acclaimed version by director Daniel Fish, three West End productions (including an Olivier Award-winning 1998 National Theatre revival that starred Hugh Jackman), countless national and international tours, and even an Oscar-winning 1955 film adaptation.
Based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs, Oklahoma! is set in 1906 out on the farmyards near Claremore, Indian Territory, and it follows a courtship rivalry between a farm girl Laurey Williams and two would-be suitors in cowboy Curly McLain and menacing farmhand Jud Fry. The musical also depicts a subplot romance between the flirtatious Ado Annie and cowboy Will Parker. In this 75th Anniversary production, expertly crafted by director Daniel Fish, the audience is confronted by all the familiar characters from yesteryear, now sporting modern dress, in an immersive plywood barn setting with guns hanging on the walls and pots of chilli steaming away. Daniel Kluger’s new orchestrations and arrangements also modernize the timeless musical with an onstage band (complete with electric guitars) giving new life to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s eternal score that includes such classics as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” and “I Cain’t Say No.”
This Bard SummerScape production enjoyed a sold-out run at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse in the fall of 2018, earning rave reviews, and in December 2018, a Broadway transfer was announced after the production secured the Circle in the Square Theatre – the perfect venue to accentuate the exhilarating, immersive nature of the show. The limited Broadway engagement is scheduled to run from March 19 through to January 19, 2020, with an official opening set for April 7.
People Will Say We’re in Love with this new production… and they’d be darn right!
(Photos courtesy of Little Fang Photo)