PCPA Presents OKLAHOMA! at Solvang Festival Theater, Beg. Tonight
Oklahoma!, the groundbreaking musical that ushered in the golden age of musical theatre, plays at the Solvang Festival Theater today, August 1, through the 24th, 2014.
Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein II and it reinvented the musical theatre genre. It pushed boundaries and created new theatrical devices. The play was the first to introduce a dream ballet, and because of their agreed upon writing structure, the lyrics were written before the music, allowing them to cohesively fuse song with story.
Despite some early skepticism during tryouts for the show which was originally titled Away We Go!, Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943 to rave reviews and sold out houses. It ran for over five years; a record that would stand until My Fair Lady came along in 1956.
Director/Choreographer Michael Jenkinson said that he is most interested in revitalizing this historical gem and making it authentic for today's audience so they can connect to these characters. "These people aren't unlike ourselves. The world that these characters live in is dirty, complicated, and emotional, which is a departure from many musicals that came before. This piece accurately and unapologetically represents realism, heartache, hard work, love, and tragedy." Jenkinson said.
The 26 member cast features Kitty Balay* as Aunt Eller, George Walker as Curly, Jackie Vanderbeck* (Music Man) as Laurie, Billy Breed as Ike Skidmore, Karin Hendricks as Ado Annie, and Joseph Cannon (Spamalot) as Ali Hakim.
The creative team includes, Music Director Callum Morris, Scenic Designer DeAnne Kennedy, Costume Designer Frederick P. Deeben, Lighting Designer Michael P. Frohling, Sound Designer Elisabeth Rebel, and Stage Manager Suzanne Tyler*.
This classic tuner is filled with such popular songs as Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin', The Surrey with the Fringe On Top, Many a New Day, and Oklahoma!
Numerous revivals have been staged over the years, most notably the production in 1998 directed by Trevor Nunn with choreographer Susan Stroman who put together an award winning production for the National Theatre in London. That production, featuring Hugh Jackman, was filmed and broadcast on PBS and is available on DVD. After winning numerous Olivier Award nominations, the Trevor Nunn production moved to Broadway in 2002 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical. The production took liberties with the original by extending some of the dances, creating new choreography, and new orchestrations.
Playwright Thomas Hischak noted, "Not only is Oklahoma! the most important of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, it is also the single most influential work in the American musical theatre. It is the first fully integrated musical play and its blending of song, character, plot, and even dance would serve as the model for Broadway shows for decades."
*Member, Actors' Equity Association