Mackintosh Takes RNT's Oklahoma! to LyceumDate: 25 September 1998
Oklahoma! is now confirmed for a West End transfer following the completion next month of its three-month run at the Royal National Theatre. Producer Cameron Mackintosh, who oversaw the last major London revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic in 1979, will present the critically acclaimed RNT production at the Lyceum Theatre for a limited 23-week only season from Wednesday, 20 January 1999. The run is scheduled to end 26 June 1999, at which time the Broadway transfer of the Disney hit musical The Lion King is expected to arrive at the theatre.
Trevor Nunn's re-interpretation of the musical is the National's biggest hit to date, having continually broken box-office records in its opening week and selling out for the entirety of its run.
The principals from the RNT run have been confirmed to transfer with the show to the new venue, including Hugh Jackman (Curly), Josefina Gabrielle (Laurey), Shuler Hensley (Jud Fry), Jimmy Johnston (Will Parker) and Vicki Simon (Ado Annie). Other casting details have yet to be confirmed.
Lucinda Morrsion, spokeswoman for the RNT, confirmed to What's On Stage that negotiations are ongoing for additional Oklahoma! plans, including a Broadway transfer. Berk Fink, vice president of public relations at the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organisation, is confident that the production is New York-bound, saying that every major Broadway producer had already expressed interest. 'I think there's a very, very good chance we'll see it on Broadway within the next two years or so,' he told What's On Stage.
R&H has described the RNT's Oklahoma! as 'a radiant and exhilarating production'. In addition to Nunn's 'fresh minting', it features new choreography from Susan Stroman, a departure from the signature Agnes De Mille original. The rest of the RNT creative team includes Anthony Ward (set and costume design), David Hersey (lighting), Paul Groothuis (sound) and John Owen Edwards (musical direction). Original orchestrations are by Robert Russell Bennett with additional orchestrations by William David Brohn and new dance music arranged by David Krane.
Set in the American West at the turn of the century, Oklahoma! tells the story of young Laurey and the two rivals for her affections: Curly, a cowboy, and Jud, the hired farmhand. The classic score includes 'Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin', 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top', and 'People Will Say We're in Love' as well as the rousing title song.
Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It broke all box-office records when it first opened on Broadway in 1943. The legendary duo went on to create Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music. Based on the Lynn Riggs' play Green Grow the Lilacs, Oklahoma! ran for more than 2,000 performances and marked a significant development in the history of musical theatre, with the songs becoming integral to the libretto, furthering the plot and character development.
Oklahoma!'s straight run in the National's Olivier Theatre finishes 3 October 1998 to make way for Sean Mathias' production of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman, which begins previews 12 October. Bookings open for the Lyceum transfer on Sunday 27 September 1998.