Ch. 11- OKLAHOMA

In This Episode

OKLAHOMA

COMPOSER: Richard Rodgers

LYRICIST: Oscar Hammerstein II

BOOK: Oscar Hammerstein II

SOURCE: Lynn Riggs play Green Grow The Lilacs (1930)

DIRECTOR: Rouben Mamoulian

CHOREOGRAPHER: Agnes DeMille

PRINCIPLE CAST: Howard DaSilva (Jud), Alfred Drake (Curly), Celeste Holm (Ado Annie), Joan Roberts (Laurey)

OPENING DATE: Mar 31, 1943

CLOSING DATE: May 29, 1948

PERFORMANCES: 2,218

SYNOPSIS: Laurey, a young girl living in the Oklahoma territory, must choose between two men to accompany her to the box social: Curly, an attractive cowboy and Jud, a sinister farmhand, whose emotional instability might lead to Curly’s death. 

Building on the earlier success of Show Boat, Oklahoma! furthered the storytelling capabilities of a book musical, shocking audiences with its commonplace opening, fusing the narrative with a dream ballet, and unifying all elements to tell one story. The musical is also significant as the first artistic collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Kevin David Thomas explores how the musical was not predicted for success, the contributions of choreographer Anges DeMille and director Rouben Mamoulian, the importance of Decca Records documenting its original cast through an audio recording, and the legacy of the musical in the national discourse. 

Kevin David Thomas is an actor, music director, broadway coach, and co-host of the acclaimed podcast, ‘Behind the Curtain: Broadway’s Living Legends’. He has been on faculty at the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theater at NYFA for 10 years. Kevin performed in the Broadway revivals of A Little Night Music (cast recording) and Les Misérables. As a music director/musician specializing in new works: A Tale of Two Cities (Broadway; asst to MD), Little House on the Prairie (Nat’l Tour; Asst Music Sup), Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On (world premiere; cast recording). He is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University.

SOURCES

Oklahoma, Original Cast Recording, Decca (1943)

Oklahoma!: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers, published by Applause Libretto Library (2010)

Oklahoma starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae, directed by Fred Zinnemann, RKO Radio (1955)

Oklahoma starring Josefina Gabrielle and Hugh Jackman, directed by Trevor Nunn, Image Entertainment (1999)

OK! The Story of Oklahoma!: A Celebration of America’s Most Beloved Musical by Max Wilk, published by Applause Books (2002)

Oklahoma: The Making of An American Musical by Tim Carter, published by Yale University Press (2007)

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