"Oklahoma" is Back on Broadway - With a Dark Twist

Oklahoma! is one of the most recognizable and beloved classic musicals in the history of Broadway - and there's an intriguing and re-imagined version that will be hitting the stage this Spring. Directed by experimental theater guru Daniel Fish (known for unique Shakespeare interpretations and productions that really push the envelope), this version has a dark contemporary interpretation. Not only does it include video interludes and an alternate ending, it will also be performed at Broadway's only theater in the round. And, like other Broadway shows, it also features live music, but with a twist: the normally full-orchestral score has been given a country-style twist, and is performed by a small onstage band.

The original musical was written by famed duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, who are also known for shows such as Cinderella, The King & I, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music. It originally opened on Broadway back in 1943, and promptly received rave reviews, as well as a special Pulitzer Prize. The musical is known for songs like "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", and, of course, the title number "Oklahoma" (where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain....). 

In addition to its first Broadway run, the musical has also seen several U.S. tours, as well as a stint on London's West End. But it didn't end there - it was revived on Broadway in 1951, 1979, and 2002, and revived on the West End in 1980 and 1998. It was also made into a movie in 1955, starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. Let's call it like it is - the world has seen a LOT of Oklahoma! Do we really need another rendition of this musical about a farm girl and the two gents who want to marry her? 

Apparently, the answer is yes. This particular production has been in development for several years, first originating at SummerScape at Bard College in 2015. It then moved Off Broadway to St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, where the New York Times called it "intimately staged and darkly revisionist." 

Oklahoma! is slated to begin previews at Circle in the Square Theatre on March 19, and run until Labor Day weekend.

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.