5 reasons why you should see Oklahoma!

Posted on 16 June 2023

A love story for the ages that has survived through fifteen US presidencies? Shut the barn door! Back in 1943, Oklahoma! set the golden age of theatre alight and the light is still burning brightly.

This is the first time you've seen a hoedown like this. In this story, a high-spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys paves the road to true love, but it ain’t so smooth for our star-crossed Western lovers - the charming cowboy Curly and the stunning farm girl Laurey. These two souls of the outback desperately fight to keep their love alive. But can it survive the new state of Oklahoma?

Discover it for yourself, partner! Here are five reasons why you should see Oklahoma!.

Production shot of Oklahoma!
Production shot of Oklahoma!
Production shot of Oklahoma!
Production shot of Oklahoma!

It’s a Wild West history lesson

The events of Oklahoma! take place in the early 1900s, just as the Oklahoma Territory is on the brink of becoming the 46th state. The story delves into the spirit of the American frontier and explores the dreams of its people through the journeys of ranch hands and farm girls, each with their own aspirations.

The musical highlights the dances, dating, and social customs of Oklahoma and the Midwest in 1906, shedding light on the differences between country folks and city dwellers. It offers an introspective look into this period of history, where young individuals strive to find their place in Oklahoma, America, and the rapidly changing world. Out across the cornfields, the states are transforming by the minute.

It was penned by Rodgers and Hammerstein

The music for Oklahoma! was written by Richard Rodgers, and the lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II, and oh, what a beautiful score it is! Rodgers and Hammerstein heralded a Golden Age of musical theatre with the songs in Oklahoma! advancing the plot, characters, and themes, seamlessly working within the story.

Oklahoma! marked a departure from the traditional musicals of the time, where songs and dances were often standalone numbers unrelated to the plot. Rodgers and Hammerstein integrated the story, music, and dance seamlessly, creating a cohesive and unified theatrical experience. The characters in Oklahoma! were more complex and realistic than the stock characters in musical theatre at the time.

Prior to Oklahoma!, Oscar Hammerstein II's last five projects were flops. In a twist of fate, Oklahoma! broke all previous Broadway records for success, running for 2,212 performances.

Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma! is radically different 

Fish’s production makes the stakes and adrenaline higher. It strips away the gingham kitsch  merriment of the original, offering a darker, more wild, and sexier representation. With an edgier characterisation of the Oklahoma community, it depicts a place where the only way to relax is through sex or firing a gun…yeehaw!

The characters are reimagined, offering a fresh perspective. For example, the character Ado Annie, who is usually portrayed as pure comic relief, is presented as a more complex and relatable character with desires that can't be easily dismissed. The central love triangle between Laurey, Curly, and Jud is also portrayed as a true three-way, adding a much-needed dose of depth and tension to the story.

It’s visually stunning 

The production stands out visually, but in its own unique way - with its spare and unpretty aesthetics, there is a contrast between the gilded auditorium of Wyndham Theatre and the stage lined with blonde plywood and guns that creates a striking visual impact. The dream ballet sequence has a sinister edge, enhancing the overall atmosphere of the production.

As the outsider Jud Fry, Patrick Vaill is compelling; he is more melancholy than dangerous. With Vaill's face being filmed, projected, and magnified across the back wall, Pore Jud is Daid is performed in complete darkness. The image is unsettling, as his enormous eyes flicker and wince.

The orchestrations are brilliant

The orchestrations by Daniel Kluger offer a jagged and shredded take on the musical's score. The familiar melodies are tainted by elements such as the popping of beer ring pulls or Nirvana-esque vocal fatalism, adding a unique twist to the original music.

The original Broadway orchestration of Oklahoma! by Robert Russell Bennett called for a total of twenty-eight musicians in an orchestra, including a harp, five brass players, and four woodwinds. Now that’s what I call an orchestra!

Tickets for Oklahoma! are available now!

Sweet home Oklahoma! These tickets are going as fast as a twister on the cornfields! 

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By Kevin Thomas

From as early as I can recall, writing has always been my passion. Being able to combine this with my love for theatre has been a rewarding and exhilarating experience. I truly believe that there is magic in seeing a story brought to life on stage, and this is what I would like to promote to audiences.