Oklahoma! Opens at RNT Today, 15 JulyDate: 15 July 1998
The much-anticipated Royal National Theatre production of Rodger's and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, starring comedienne Maureen Lipman, opens today in the RNT's Olivier Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical has not had a major London revival since Cameron Mackintosh s production in 1980.
The production continues the RNT's tradition of reviving large-scale musicals - a tradition which last year saw Sir Richard Eyre s highly acclaimed production of Guys and Dolls.
Trevor Nunn, who succeeded Eyre as Director of the RNT in 1997, directs Oklahoma!. Nunn has had a long history of successful, big-budget musicals with productions like Cats, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard to his credit. Productions for the National have included Tom Stoppard s Arcadia and, since the start of his directorship, Frank McGuinness Mutabilitie, JM Barrie s Peter Pan and Henrik Ibsen s Enemy of the People.
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: Curley, 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.
The first collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma! 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.
Susan Stroman has choreographed Oklahoma! with design by Anthony Ward and lighting by David Hersey. Stroman won an Olivier Award for her choreography in Crazy for You in the West End and a Tony Award for the Broadway production. She also choreographed Hal Prince s Show Boat, currently playing at the West End's Prince Edward Theatre.
Maureen Lipman, who plays Aunt Eller, is joined by Hugh Jackman and Josefina Gabrielle as Curley and Laurey respectively. Also featured are Shuler Hensley as Jud, Jimmy Johnston as Will Parker, Peter Polycarpou as Ali Hakim and Vicky Simon as Ado Annie.