This is OKLAHOMA! like you’ve never seen it before.
The 2019 Tony-winning Best Revival of a Musical, visiting Philadelphia from March 8 – 20, 2022, has been re-imagined by the visionary director Daniel Fish and reveals a distinctly modern subtext to the classic 1943 musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.
Not a word of text was changed in the script, but the artistic choices employed in this production yield a new vision on a classic story. Read on for some additional context that will help set the stage as you experience this classic musical in a whole new light.
WELCOME TO A SHARED EXPERIENCE
At its core, OKLAHOMA! has always been a story about a community coming together, and this production uses scenic and lighting design to evoke a sense of togetherness. There are moments the lights are left up, moments of total darkness, and a visible band center stage.
Upon entering the theater, you’re welcomed into a communal space that evokes life in a rural community. A sparse, plywood set is lit brightly, scattered with wooden tables and chairs and a faded wall mural of a farmscape projected onto the back wall with colorful mylar fringe hanging at the top.
A PRODUCTION THAT FEELS LIKE AMERICA TODAY
OKLAHOMA! has long been celebrated as an iconic piece of musical theater, uniting audiences with the idea of a perfect America. But, viewed anew in the context of a country still struggling with racial, economic, and gender equity, sharply divided by political beliefs, this production pushes back on the notion of a perfect nation - instead suggesting the idea that America is still very much a work-in-progress.
The cast is made up of actors of different races, backgrounds, sexualities, gender identities, and religions in a company of storytellers - reflecting the rich diversity of America. They are costumed in modern clothing - t-shirts, blue jeans, trucker hats - and accompanied by a seven-piece Bluegrass band, complete with banjo and steel drum.
The Grammy-nominated score re-orchestrates some of the most classic songs in American theater history. The resulting sound is a refreshing, modern take on a score that remains full of earworms you’ll be humming in the days to come. Check out the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ OKLAHOMA! Spotify playlist to compare the 1952 and 2019 Broadway cast recordings.
A STATEMENT ON GUN VIOLENCE
Director Daniel Fish was deliberate and specific about the number of guns presented on the stage, and the look and sound of each. The guns used onstage are prop guns and no live ammunition is ever kept onsite or onstage. The touring company has been trained in gun safety with experts.
OKLAHOMA! is proud to be the first gun-neutral show on Broadway and National Tour. For every visible gun in OKLAHOMA!, both onstage and around the theater, OKLAHOMA! will make a minimum donation of $100 per gun on behalf of the show to Gun Neutral’s 501c3 non-profit, , a non-partisan initiative open to all storytellers, producers, and financiers, calling for greater social responsibility to offset and account for gun violence in entertainment.
Famed modern dance choreographer Agnes de Mille’s “Dream Ballet” concluded Act One in previous productions of OKLAHOMA!. The dance is an important piece advancing the conflict in Laurey’s story - a Freudian fever dream interpreting her inner struggle between two suitors vying for her attention and the chance to escort her to the town box social.
A signature moment of any production of OKLAHOMA!, choreographer John Heginbotham set his version of the Dream Ballet on one barefoot modern dancer wearing a sequined DREAM BABY DREAM t-shirt, an homage to the original piece. The result is a striking, reimagined piece with a distinctly rocking modern take that begins Act Two.
This production of OKLAHOMA! is recommended for children ages 12 and up and contains fog, loud gunshot effects, moments of total darkness, and violence.
Learn more about the production and purchase your tickets today.