The first collaboration of famed music-and-lyrics team Rodgers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma! still has "more than six hundred productions per year," but, according to University of North Carolina music department chair Carter, the musical has never received a "scholarly" treatment. This meticulously researched, soundly reported tome covers much of the same territory as Max Wilk's 1993 title, OK! The Story of Oklahoma!, but instead of calling on the testimony of cast and crew, Carter delves into the archives of Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein and the show's producer, the Theatre Guild. Taking from letters, newspapers, drafts and business records, Carter puts together a comprehensive record of the writing, casting and financing process, a challenging 11-month trial (shockingly swift in today's era of endless development workshops) that shaped the final show through inspired teamwork and heated quarrels. The history includes enlightening tables that chart the evolution of script and songs from one draft to another and a concise timeline of the show's inception. Also amusing are the some-things-never-change concerns of the 1942 Braodway machine: would Oklahoma! be too serious and unspectacular to woo the masses? Would stars draw in the crowds? Deanna Durbin as Laurey? Groucho Marx as the Peddler? Though Carter can overwhelm with a surfeit of details, devout musical theater fans will applaud the minutiae. Photos.
Publisher: Yale University Press