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RNT s Oklahoma! Jockeys for Lyceum Transfer

By • West End
The Royal National Theatre is in discussions to transfer its highly acclaimed production of Oklahoma! to the West End's Lyceum Theatre. The show finishes its straight run at the National's Olivier Theatre when it must clear out for Antony and Cleopatra, starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman.

Trevor Nunn's re-interpretation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic 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.

Lucinda Morrsion, spokeswoman for the RNT, confirmed to What's On Stage that negotiations are in progress and that a transfer is likely to be announced within the next month. If successful, Oklahoma! could open at the Lyceum in January, conveniently filling a gap to July 1999 when Disney hit musical The Lion King is expected to arrive from Broadway.

It is uncertain whether the original National company will move with the show to the West End. Although the cast, aside from established British comedienne Maureen Lipman, started as relative unknowns, the principals Josefina Gabrielle, Hugh Jackman and Shuler Hensley - Laurey, Curly and Jud, respectively - have all been approached since for other major projects.

Morrison also confirmed that negotiations are ongoing for additional future Oklahoma! plans, including a cast album and Broadway transfer. Berk Fink, vice president of public relations at the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organisation, is confident of the latter, 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.

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. The last major London revival was produced by Cameron Mackintosh in 1980.


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