Oklahoma! is perhaps one of the most important pieces of musical theatre of the Twentieth Century. The iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein score inspired a new generation of Broadway musicals, and pushed the boundaries of the genre. With impressive choreography by Agnes de Mille, featuring one of the first dream ballet sequences seen on the stage, this show changed the way modern audiences would appreciate musicals for the next fifty years.
“Grade: A. A stunning and radical theatrical experience.” – Tom Gliatto, Entertainment Weekly
“The hottest ticket in town.” – Adam Rathe, Town & Country
Cow-poke love triangle time! Out in the back country, outside the town of Claremore, Indian Territory, in 1906, Oklahoma! tells the story of plucky farm girl, Laurey Williams and her daring courtship by two rival suitors, tame and dependable cowboy Curly McLain or the sinister and frightening farmhand Jud Fry have got her in their sights and they ain’t letting up. If that isn’t enough lovin’ for you, then there’s also the blossoming romance between calm and cool cowboy, Will Parker and his scandalously flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie. When a stranger appears in the area, the community begin circling their wagons, and the violence of the frontier that shaped America is brewing on the horizon. Upending the sunny romances of a farmer and a cowpoke alike, this is Oklahoma!
The Bard Summerscape Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! With Music by Richard Rodgers, Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Original Choreography by Agnes De Mille, Orchestrations & Arrangements and Music Supervision Daniel Kluger, Choreography by John Heginbotham, Scenic Design by Laura Jellinek, Costume Design by Terese Wadden, Lighting Design by Scott Zielinski, Sound Design by Drew Levy, Projection Design by Joshua Thorson, Music Direction and Additional Vocal Arrangements Nathan Koci, Directed by Daniel Fish.
OKLAHOMA! is the first musical written by composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs and was originally choreographed by Agnes de Mille. The original production, which premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre, New York in March 1943 during WWII, and is largely credited with being the first musical to fully integrate its book, score, and choreography towards advancing the plot. In 1944, the Broadway production won a special Pulitzer Prize, and in 1955 Oklahoma was adapted into an Oscar winning film.
This production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! was originally developed, produced, and premiered at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in July 2015. It was subsequently developed and produced by St. Ann’s Warehouse and Eva Price at the Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Theater, Brooklyn, NY, Fall 2018.
The production has gotten fuller, freer, and funnier in its Broadway transfer. It’s remarkable actors feel loose, confidant, and playful, as if they’re all taking deeper breaths and, consequently, greater risks. At St. Ann’s Warehouse, the performances had a veneer of experimental coolness, a dry, distanced note in the delivery, as if the actors were standing a little apart from their characters and, along with the audience, observing these familiar figures they’d been given to play. Though that sense of comment remains – and Mary Testa and Rebecca Naomi Jones continue to make the most of it as a wry, ruthless Aunt Eller and a Laurey flush with intense, reserved desire – the characters’ humanity now feels as present and comprehensive as the director’s style. – Sara Holdren for Vulture Magazine.