Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein Oklahoma! It premiered in New York in 1943. This is an important landmark in the history of the Broadway musical, it lasted up to 2212 performances.
Last seen London Oklahoma! was at the National Theater in 1998 when he was staged by Trevor Nann and led Hugh Jackman.
The first thing to say about the current renaissance is that it’s not a big Broadway musical production. Something rougher and more serious was tried, something more intimate and exciting; perfect for a place like Young Vic, but not always so good for Rogers and Hammerstein
The play, directed by Daniel Fish and Jordan Fein, originally staged outside of Broadway, has been reinterpreted and filmed. This is on a small scale; a small orchestra, a small company, no choir, no wide spaces. Their concept is an interesting exercise that doesn’t always work.
The Young Vic auditorium is completely unrecognizable. The theater has been converted into a barn. Stage traverse. There are only chairs and trestle with food. The actors are sitting. They are stamped on plywood boards. The audience can sometimes be as brightly lit as the singers. The two scenes take place in complete obscurity.
The band is on stage together with the cast. All the songs we know so well are – Oh, what a beautiful morning », Surrey with fringe on top, Kansas City, I can’t say no.The is a Farmer and a Cow, People will say we are in love, Oklahoma! – but the score was completely orchestrated by Daniel Kluger, and the songs sound completely different.
There are two love stories. Lori (Anushka Lucas) loves cowboy Kuchar (Arthur Darville) and farmer Judd (Patrick Vale). Davis and Vail are repeating performances given in New York. Jude is a much more sympathetic character than he was in the past. Here he does not accidentally fall on his own knife in the fighter. He was shot by Kuchar.
Meanwhile in another more musical comedy key Ada Annie Carnes (Marisha Wallace) is the naive Will Parker (James Davis) and Ali Hakim, the peddler (Steiras Demeter). Wallace stops the show from I can’t say no..
Choreography by Agnes de Mille was a major part of the success of Robert Mamulan’s original Broadway production of 1943, known for its iconic 15-minute dream ballet. Young Vic has ballet, but it’s a solo performance on a distorted, screaming score. Marie-Astrid Mens dances in a mad manner, then in smoke, then in darkness.
Oklahoma! it was the first time Rogers and Hammerstein had worked together. They would keep writing Carousel, South Pacific, King and I. and The sound of music, they are all still popular as before and are regularly revived. Chichester Festival South Pacific will go on a UK tour this autumn.