Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Richard Rodgers
adapted from the play Green Grow The Lilacs, by Lynn Riggs

INFO:

Opened at St. James Theatre    April 1, 1943    2,212 performances in its first run (A record at the time)
Original Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Original Choreographer: Agnes de Mille
Original Producer:Theresa Helburn and Lawrence Langner
Original Leads: Curly: Alfred Drake    Laurey: Joan Roberts    Jud: Howard da Silva     Ado Annie: Celeste Holm
Cast Size: Male: 4    Female: 3    Ensemble: at least 8-8    Total Cast Size: At least 24, but as large as you can go.
Orchestra: 19, but there are also two-piano arrangements available.
Published Script: Random House 6 Plays by Rodgers & Hammerstein ISBN 0394602005
Production Rights: Rodgers & Hammerstein Library
Recordings: Many! The first musical to ever release an original cast album, and it’s good. There are other, more complete recordings.
Film: Directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, I think it’s presented on film well enough.
Other shows by the authors: Carousel; Allegro; South Pacific; The King And I, Flower Drum SongThe Sound of Music   Hammerstein: Show Boat   Rodgers: Babes In Arms, Pal Joey, No Strings
Awards: Many, but not the original production.

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

Every High School in the universe probably did Oklahoma! At one time or another. It’s fine for High Schools with fairly large drama departments and decent technical support, not to mention an orchestra. Good for colleges, most dinner theaters, summer stock, semi-pro and pro. Schools with strong dance departments might be particularly drawn to Oklahoma!

Be Warned:

If you can’t handle a pretty large production, and if you don’t have some strong voices for your two leads in particular, plus some pretty good dancers available to you who can also do some singing, don’t do this show.

Over 600 productions of Oklahoma are done each year in the U.S. And Canada alone, as of 2013, and who knows how many more that are unlicensed. You should check to see if it has been done recently in your area before selecting it.

THE STORY:

ACT ONE: Curly, a cowboy, rides his horse and remarks about the weather, “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’.” He rides up to Aunt Eller, an older woman, who is churning butter. They banter a bit about how if she were just a younger woman, etc. Laurey steps out of the house, young, fresh, the girl next door and a farmer. (Farmers and Cowboys don’t get along well in the Oklahoma Territory.) They clearly are enamored of each other, but refuse to admit it. So they play a game of what if, as he asks her out to the Box Social, a big neighborhood party where women pack lunches and men bid on them for charity. Curly sells her by describing how he’ll drive her there in “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top.” But the childish banter falls apart, and Curly departs. Other local boys enter, Will Parker and Slim. Will has won a competition at the fair, and made hisself (intentional) $50. “Kansas City” was a hit for Will, with all its new-fangled doo-dads, and new fancy steps. He shows off a gift he bought for Ado Annie’s dad, the “Little Wonder,” a kaleidoscope with girlie pictures in it. Unknown to Will, there’s also a knife built inside that, at the right touch, springs up to kill a man looking into it. He says that Ado Annie’s father told him that if’n he ever had $50 all at one time, he could marry her. (Okay, enough of the colloquialisms, I’m getting a headache.) But foolishly (because everyone in the play does childish things), he’s gone and spent the $50 on presents for Annie, so he no longer has the cash.

As the boys exit, Curly (all too conveniently) re-enters. He asks Eller who Laurey has got her eyes on if not him. She says there’s just Curly for Laurey. Jud, a strong hired man of limited intelligence who takes care of Eller’s farm, walks by working. He is antisocial, dark, grim, dangerous. Eller points out that Jud is clearly interested in Laurey, as well. Jud steps from the house to announce that he’s taking the rest of the day off – he’s just asked Laurey to go to the Social with him, and out of pique against Curly, she’s accepted. Curly offers to tank Aunt Eller, and she accepts. He leaves. Laurey begs Eller to ride with her and Jud, and is clearly afraid of the man. She’s seen girly pictures Jud has pinned on the walls of the smokehouse, where he lives, and doesn’t want to be alone with him. (The movie handles this plot point better. She has never seen them – Curly discovers the photos. And why would Laurey go alone with a man into a man’s living quarters?)

The Peddler, Ali Hakim, rides up with his wagon full of gaudy and flashy goods, and Ado Annie is with him. Annie likes far too much just about every man she meets, and Hakim is her current interest. Eller bought a defective egg beater from Hakim, and wants her money back – but the con man sells her other goods, instead. (Again, no one’s very bright in Oklahoma!) Laurey points out to her friend Annie that she’s promised to Will Parker. But, as Annie sings, “I Cain’t Say No” to any man. The Peddler shows off various lady’s underwear, but no sale. Laurey buys “The Elixer of Egypt” from the peddler, a “smelling salt” that will make everything clear to her about what to do with her life (he claims). Since she can’t make up her mind about Curly, she eagerly buys the potion. (And given the Elixer’s effect on her later, we might assume that the Peddler is also a drug-pusher. Along with Jud’s dirty pictures and his very existence, and “the Little Wonder,” as well as all the smarmy comments made by men throughout, the show is provided what I find an unpleasant, ugly and pointless color.

The Peddler comes on to Annie, but Will (conveniently) shows up to interrupt. (The endless parade of convenient entrances and exits, many of which make almost no sense, is again typical of Operetta of the 20′s-30′s. Hammerstein II had authored more than a few of the most successful of those Operettas, and had not yet abandoned their easy, convenient conventions when he authored Oklahoma! I think this is a flaw a good director must find some way to address or work with, or hide.) Will announces he’s made the requisite $50, and Annie is his, to her displeasure. He then proudly points out he spent all the money on presents for her, and she is instantly (conveniently) in love with Will again.

Curly enters with another girl he’s taking to the Social, an empty-headed local named Gertie who gushes all over him, all for Laurey’s benefit. Laurey pretends to be unaffected. (“Many A New Day”) The Peddler makes another move on Annie, and she is now in love with him. Her Pa shows up with a gun, and discovering Will has no money and his daughter enamored of the Peddler, insists that she and Hakim get married. Needless to say, this is the last thing Hikim (and apparently, almost all the men in the state) wants. (“It’s A Scandal! It’s An Outrage!”) Momentarily alone with Laurey, Curly and she sing of their love for each other indirectly. (“People Will Say We’re In Love”) In the hopes of ridding himself of perceived competition for Laurey, Curly pays a visit to the slow-witted Jud and suggests that if he commits suicide, more people will like him. (“Pore Jud Is Dead”) The two men hold a pissing contest with a gun, proving Curly the better shot and enraging Jud. The shots bring most of the other characters running. Alone with Hakim, Jud asks if he has a “Little Wonder,” he has something clearly in mind. The man does not, and departs. Alone, Jud feels sorry for himself (“Lonely Room”) and determines to have Laurey at all costs.

The girls all prepare for the Social, and Laurey tries the elixir. She dreams about her and Curly, and the dream ends badly as, in ballet, Jud murders Curly. (“Out Of My Dreams”) She’s wakened by Jud – it’s time to go to the party.

ACT TWO: The party, and Ado Annie’s dad, Carnes, leads two opposing forces in attempting to make peace through dancing together. (“The Farmer And The Cowman”) All the single girls have packed lunches, and the men bid on them for lunch and a date. Aunt Eller leads the auction. Desperate to get out of marrying Ado Annie, Hakim offers to buy with cash the gifts Will spent his money on for Annie, and Will happily complies. Will also shows Hakim a gift he bought for Annie’s dad, the Wonder, which terrifies Hakim. Will does not know it’s special knife trick. He thinks he’s won her, and bids the whole $50 on Annie’s lunch. Hence, he will be again broke. But against his will and with Carnes aiming his rifle at him, Hakim outbids Will and “wins” Annie. Will now has $50 cash, and Annie is his. Laurey’s lunch comes up for bidding, and Jud bids everything he has. Curly sells everything he owns on the spot, including his gun, and outbids the furious Jud.

Jud prepares to “share” the Little Wonder with Curly. Hakim warms Eller, who tactfully but quickly interrupts without giving Jud away. Jud angrily grabs Laurey and dances her off. Will is alone with Annie, and demands she be his girl alone, a demand she will have a hard time complying with apparently, even after the wed. (“All ‘Er Nothin’”) Alone with Laurey, Jud demands her love. She rebuffs his advance and he warns her that she is responsible for whatever will happen. He leaves and (conveniently) Curly steps in. They agree to marry. Ado Annie makes another play for the Peddler. Will steps in (conveniently…) and wins her back.

Curly and Laurey are married. (We’re really not sure if any time has passed. Up to this point, all the action has transpired in a single day.) They celebrate. (“Oklahoma!”) Gertie shows up, having married Hakim, which upsets Annie. The men run a shivaree for Laurey and Curly. Jud starts a fight with Curly (lamely, conveniently…), pulls out a knife, and dies on his own blade. (In the film, Laurey and Curly are dumped by the shivaree on a haystack which Jud sets on fire, a bit scarier than the play as Laurey is also endangered.) A trial is quickly held (we’re in Oklahoma…) so the young lovers can head off on their honeymoon. Let off on self defense, off they go on a beautiful day.

THE SONGS:

“Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’”; “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top”; “Kansas City”; “I Cain’t Say No”; “Many A New Day”; “It’s A Scandal! It’s An Outrage!”; “People Will Say We’re In Love”; “Poor Jud Is Dead”; “Lonely Room”; “Out Of My Dreams”; “The Farmer and the Cowman”; “All ‘er Nuthin’”; “Oklahoma”; “Finale.

Hits include “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’”; “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top”; “I Cain’t Say No”; “People Will Say We’re In Love”; “Oklahoma”

MY OPINIONS:

Feel free, as ever, to skip or ignore my opinions and rating, particularly in the case of this show.    Because all I can say is many a new day will dawn before I cain’t say no to this show.

Well, here we go, forward to the sacrilege. I don’t like Oklahoma!, exclamation mark or no exclamation mark. It bores me to tears. I’ve seen numerous productions of it, and provided it every opportunity to thrill me, and it simply does not. I am bored by its faux-”countrified” attitudes and language, as phony as they could be. I am bored by what perceive to be little more than a gussied-up operetta, with a few interesting innovations to scarcely hide the fact. (The opening number is not sung by a large ensemble, but is rather a quiet, simple solo, a nice touch – but Hammerstein II had famously done a similar thing opening Showboat, in 1927. But I don’t see anything else in this musical that you can’t find in dozens of operettas.) And though I truly admire much of the score, there are songs in this show that annoy me like nails on a chalkboard, particularly “Kansas City”, “It’s A Scandal”; “The Farmer and the Cowman”, and “All ‘er Nuthin’”

My own opinion is that Hammerstein was both a good and a great man, a soulful visionary who helped move the musical theater into the 20th century, and who demonstrated that American Musicals could actually be about important subjects. As such, he should be endlessly venerated by Musical Theater practitioners. But as a lyricist and librettist, he was generally mediocre, and he is most exposed when he writes what are intended to be comic numbers and scenes. I also find his incessant references and allusions to nature off-putting and again, not particularly credible, and that is how I react to many of his lyrics. Things like “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.” Well, corn can be high-but who in Oklahoma when it was a territory had ever seen an elephant -especially a cowhand like Curly, who sings this lyric at the top of the show. I find this sort of thing embarrassing, to be frank.

There are logic problems with the lyrics, perhaps subtle, but which I believe damage the show for a percentage of the audience. Ado Annie uses the word “Nix” in “I Cain’t Say No”, a distinctly American slang city word. She wouldn’t know it or use it. She uses the word “undertow”, as well, a word having to do with beaches. A girl who has lived her life in the Oklahoma Territory would not know anything about an undertow, being maybe 1,5000 miles from the nearest beach. And I doubt at that time in history that the term “undertow” was in common use, if it existed at all as a term. In “All “er Nuttin’,” Ado Annie sings about a crawfish. Has she ever seen one? Where? How? Laurie, in “People Will Say We’re In Love,” sings “Don’t please my folks too much.” What folks? She lives with Aunt Eller, her folks appear to be long gone. All of these, and too many more, render the songs and characters precious and somewhat unbelievable.

There is a larger problem with the characters in the piece – the young lovers, Jud, and the character leads (Will and Ado Annie) all act like particularly stupid ten year-olds. Their relationships are extraordinarily juvenile, leading one to question if there might not be something in the Oklahoma air that retards maturity. Curly and Laurey are particularly childish during the machinations of their (to me) embarrassing march to a marriage utterly doomed to fail. Ten year-olds, setting up shop together? It can only end badly. They talk like backwards ten year-olds, their dialogue could be heard spouted on a playground between a boy and girl experiencing their first crush, filled with denial and love-hate. Short of using the word “cooties,” it’s all here. This attitude unfortunately makes its way into lyrics like “People Will Say We’re In Love,” which I suppose is an improvement (barely) over the dialogue. All the dialogue between Will and Ado Annie, as well as the Peddlar, Ali Hakim, is equally childish. I find the behavior of almost every character in the show stunted. If were an Oklahoman, I would take personal offense. And friends, I am not exaggerating, I’m afraid. Read the show, or watch the film version with Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones…if you can. The men have only one mode in dealing with woman, a leering and uninformed approach to sex. The women are either virgins, or worse, experienced and yet still ignorant and morally and intellectually undeveloped, as is the case with Ado Annie.

Another problem with the script. Jud is disreputable, sexually psycho and violent. But Curly’s number, “Poor Jud Is Dead,” nearly makes us feel sorry for Jud, which really doesn’t help the show. Jud is just so stupid. That said, the number also renders Curly manipulative and unlikeable, not wonderful traits for our clean-cut hero. This may have been an attempt to move the show away from operetta and to modernize its sensibility. It is just confusing on stage.

What’s more, I think that Rodgers and Hammerstein became better at working together with some of their later shows, such as Carousel, and certainly South Pacific and The King & I, both excellent shows with far more interesting scores and scripts than Oklahoma! (So maybe, the titles should be South Pacific!! Or The King And I!!! Just a thought.)

That said, even the shows in this handbook that are rated without stars are “slightly above average”, and “worthy of consideration,” and that’s exactly where I place Oklahoma. It’s strength is found today mostly in the hit songs, some perfectly beautiful music, potentially in its choreography, and in its somewhat youthful energy. It is weak, I think, in its book, characters, and even its local, all of which I find unfortunately contrived. This is true of nearly all the musicals in this book with a no-star rating. Either the book or score are deficient, and usually it’s the book.

Can these problems be lived with, or in some way worked around? I’ll discuss that below, in Production Concerns and Ideas. Essentially, I don’t think so. The work is protected by the R&H estates, so you’re not going to be allowed to rewrite the book (desperately needed), and even edits will be considered a violation of copyright. This should not stop you from doing Oklahoma! if you are so inclined. Keep reading.

Oklahoma! is often touted by American Theater Historians (a profession perhaps as useful as underwater basket weaver) as “the first integrated musical.” I have always found this very difficult to swallow. It was nothing of the sort! Let me explain. By “integrated,” they mean that all the songs, all the dance, all the action and dialogue, contributed directly to the story and character development. This is simply and patently not true of Oklahoma, as the number “Kansas City” readily demonstrates, as do many other lines and entire scenes, not to mention numbers. “Kansas City”, a pretty lame attempt at comedy, tells us nothing about the plot, and nothing new (or interesting) about the character who sings it. Of course, Will (the character) is not (to me) an interesting character to begin with. None of the characters in Oklahoma interest me much, they all seem like badly-drawn cartoons to me.

It is not solely the fact that false and rather silly claims are made for Oklahoma that put me off the show – it’s the fact that the characters and story are not interesting. (To me.) They fail, for me, to entertain. The writing fails to interest me, fails to cause me to care or to invest myself in the characters and their plight. And that is the first and final test of any show, despite it’s aspirations and good intentions.

Well, Oklahoma!, okay, rant completed. I believe I’ve taken this show far more seriously than most fans or critics do. Oklahoma! is one of the great success stories in Musical Theater history. Audiences have loved it (except for me and a few other lonely curmudgeons) for about 70 years, and it will be receiving everything from High School to Broadway productions for the next hundred years, I have no doubt. It is seen almost universally as a pivotal, important step in the maturation process of the Musical, though again, I do find that assertion very debatable.
My own opinion of the show is just that, mine own and a sorry thing. I prefer my shows far less rustic, and far more idea and character-driven, with far smarter lyrics. How it is. That is NO REASON that you should not heartily, seriously consider this show for your company. You would hardly be alone. Oklahoma! almost always does well, almost always makes money, almost always pleases a large percentage of its audience. And guys like me will just stay home, waiting for you to do My Fair Lady. Or Guys And Dolls. Or even The King And I.

MY RATING: (A slightly above average show, but one worthy of consideration.)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:
The show has been performed many times with limited orchestration, even with piano alone. No musical done as often as this one is always produced with its complete orchestration. The available orchestration is for 19. There is also an available two-piano orchestration. Doubtless, as is true of most musicals, it works best with the larger orchestration. The music is reasonably energetic, with a lot of vamps. It is not a difficult score to play.

Curly is a legit baritone, nice big voice, but it needs to feel young, energetic. The more legit (without going opera) the better.

Laurie is a soprano, the more legit (without getting opera-ish) the better.

Will Parker is a lyric baritone or a tenor with and belt and some lower notes. More of an actor than a singer.

Ado Annie is a mezzo-alto with a belt. More of an actress than a singer.

Jud is a bass-baritone. You’ll need a decent singer if you do “Lonely Room”, which many productions cut.

Ali Hakim is generally a tenor or lyric baritone, character role, acting more important than singing.

Aunt Eller must be a character actress, in her 50s, say. Nice big belt, alto with some high notes, but again, the acting is more important than the singing.

The ensemble is going to need to sing well, with quasi-legit operetta-type voices in each range. Many of them will need to dance very well, too. And they all need to look like they belong in the Oklahoma Territory at that time.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:
There’s a lot of dance in Oklahoma! The show is famous for Agnes de Mille’s modernistic take on countrified dancing. The movie showcases her ideas pretty well. Your dancers will need some ballet under their belts. A choreographer for this show must be ready to do a lot of movement, ranging from something resembling square dancing (“The Farmer and the Cowman”), to near-ballet. You’ll need a seriously ambitious and trained choreographer, some serious dance captains, and some serious time to put the movement together.

The smaller numbers can perhaps be done by the director. These include “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’”; “The Surrey With The Fringe On The Top”; “I Cain’t Say No”: “People Will Say We’re In Love”; “Pore Jud”; “Lonely Room”. But the rest of the numbers (and maybe a few of these, depending on how you conceptualize them) will require the touch of a choreographer. Oklahoma! is among other things a dance show.

The way the ballets are set up they are done by the chorus, your principle actors and actresses are generally not involved. They only need to move a bit, and in casting, you can focus on their singing and acting. The exception is Will, he needs to sing and dance.

CASTING CONCERNS: (Vocal demands above.)

Curly should be in his twenties or so, virile, a manly-man, tall, handsome, innately likeable, the kind of man more at home on a horse than in the company of a lady, but not without his charms. Focus on his look and his voice. Most actors who play Curly are a bit stiff, and the director makes it work for the show by allowing that stiffness to become endearing when he’s with Laurey.  Usually Caucasian, could possibly be Latino or even Black.  Multi-Racial casting might provide this show some new life.

Laurey, late teens-early twenties, will need to be a beautiful, wholesome example of “the girl next door,” or what she literally is, the “farmer’s daughter.” We must look at her and understand why men fall for her, because in her dialogue and action, she is an indecisive, self-involved child most of the play. Get the most innately likeable actress you can, that will help. Focus on voice, appearance, then acting.  Usually Caucasian, could possibly be Latino or even Black.

Will Parker is young (20s), athletic (he won at the fair), a cowboy. Usually played a bit tall and gawky, you’ll want a contrast between the romantic lead (Curly) and the comic lead (Will) in terms of appearance. Must dance. Focus on appearance, dance, then signing and acting in that order.

Ado Annie (20s) must have that something that makes men howl at the moon. She is poorly educated, self-involved, indecisive. But she knows what to do with a man in the bedroom. Any man. Comic actress with some real comedy chops. If she can be likeable, so much the better, but that is the struggle with all the leading characters in this musical. Focus on her look, acting, singing, in that order.

Jud is usually played anywhere from his 20s to his 40s. A large, strong, physically imposing man, but unappealing to the opposite sex. Innately unlikeable, there’s something destructive, dangerous, unsavory about the man. Brute force, not very bright. Focus on the look, acting, then singing.  Usually Caucasian, could possibly be Latino or even Black.

Aunt Eller is the spiritual center of the show. In her 50s or so. Must be very likeable, and represents what little common sense resides in the Oklahoma Territory. She has sacrificed and worked hard to raise Laurey and take care of the farm, and has been successful in both counts. She should be admirable. The look and age, needs energy, then acting, singing.

The various farmers and cowmen should be decent actors, age correct (especially fathers). They will all need to do some acting, some more than others (like Carnes, Ado Annie’s dad). Generally, get the look right first. If they are ensemble, get voice and dance next, don’t worry much about acting. If they’re a featured role, get the look, then acting, voice, dance.

SETS:
There are six settings in the show. Three of them take place in and around Laurey’s farmhouse, and I think that, with some creativity, these could all be the same set. That gets us down to four sets. One scene takes place at the Skidmore ranch, another on Skidmore’s kitchen porch, and I imagine these could be consolidated as well. These two sets will need to use the full stage, as they house large numbers. The two houses must look somewhat different, to be identifiable. I’d make Skidmore’s porch larger than Aunt Eller’s, at the very least, but you’ll need to do more. Both need plenty of room in front of the house for dance, so you’ll want to set the houses as far upstage as possible. Maybe place on stage left, the other right, to help differentiate them.

Jud’s lodging, which is Laurey’s smokehouse, should feel like the worst kind of man cave. It should be dark wood, ill-kept, the walls lined with girlie pics and the like, as well as with equipment used to run the farm. This could almost be played in front of the main drape, “in 1”, without a set, if you wanted the audience to “imagineer” the setting. You could use a few wooden period stools and the like to get the idea across. The vast majority of the scene has only two actors, and no movement is called for, so this set can (and should) be claustrophobic.

Many productions utilize backdrops to create a cornfield behind Aunt Ellers, a prairie, whatever. Given the operetta feel to the show, I actually think this could be a plus. It says to the audience, “hey, we KNOW this isn’t real, these people and this story aren’t real. This is a play, with the details sort of sketched in,” which for my money is just about right. Some productions have used a cyclorama across the back of the stage, using creative lighting to indicate nature, mood, what have you. This also reminds the audience that this is theater. (It must be said that this was NOT Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s intent. They wanted audiences to suspend disbelief and to invest in the characters. I personally do not believe the show is well-enough written to provide R&H’s intended response, however, and that the show needs some help.)

You could also use cutaway or partial sets that roll or fly in, particularly for the smokehouse (Jud’s place). And finally, the show might be more creatively approached with a unit set where a few pieces of period furniture set the location. The butter churn, a stool for Aunt Eller’s. A hitching post, a rolled-on elevated porch for Skidmore’s. Approaches like these could substantially lower the cost of the show, and will allow a much larger percentage of the stage space to be available to the performers.

COSTUMES:
They should be sort of period Oklahoma Territory. Cowboys, cowgirls, farmers and their daughters. This is a Musical Comedy however (with some dark corners), so bright-ish colors are welcome. Lots of costume shops can provide. You should not need to build many costumes. Do remember that your ensemble (and Will Parker) are going to dance, and make sure their clothes move accordingly.

PROPS:
A fair number of props, this is a real job for this show. All of Ali Hakim’s goods (in a suitcase? And perhaps his wagon???); Will’s gifts for Ado Annie including the Little Wonder with knife (you’ll probably be building this prop); The pics of ladies in Jud’s place, in the right period; farm paraphernalia; a butter churn; stools and chairs in the period; Will may need a rope to do rope tricks during “Kansas City”; all the lunches in baskets…this is a show with a lot of props.

LIGHTING:
If you get creative with the sets, which may largely be determined by your budget, the size and expertise of your crew and the size of your stage, then lighting becomes more important. Locations as well as moods may have to be indicated in lighting. If Jud’s smokehouse is played “in 1,” at the center of the apron in front of the closed main drape, lighting will need to create a claustrophobic mood and feel as well as focus the action, not an easy job. Most of the numbers take place toward the middle-end of a scene, which means you’ll have an initial lighting set up for each scene, which will then alter for the number while still keeping us in the location.

A particular challenge is the ballet at the end of Act I, “Out Of My Dreams.” This is a long, complex dance with many moods, and it takes place in Laurey’s dreams. The choreographer will probably need a bare stage. You can use a cyc at the back, or washes, specials, smart lights to communicate the unreal. Special effects like gobos could come into use, creating “clouds” passing by…on the ground, or whatever you think will make the dream a dream, in coordination with the director.

Another complication is that the action seems to take place in 24 hours. That means Act II is a nighttime act, and must be lit accordingly. The moon would move throughout the night, just as the sun would move during Act I. Given this show’s heavy reliance on nature in the book and lyrics, you may wish to consider these factors and do something to make them “real” for the audience. The merciless passage of the day and night could help make the action feel more urgent.

MAKE-UP:
Keep it simple and “real.” The girls “make-up” for the Social, but in period, so you’ll need to do some research.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):
Director, Set Designer, Choreographer, Music Director, Prop Master, Curly, Laurey, Jud, Aunt Eller, Will, Ado Annie.

MY THOUGHTS:
I believe there are far worthier shows for a company to invest itself into.  I believe that, at best, Oklahoma is pretty much a historically important show, but even in that context, I feel it’s quite overrated.  I do not believe that it does a good job of entertaining a modern audience, as a rule.