Geskiedenis Podcasts

'Oklahoma!' première op Broadway

'Oklahoma!' première op Broadway

Die finansiële risiko om 'n Broadway -musiekblyspel op te stel, is so groot dat min produksies ooit die Great White Way bereik sonder 'n tydperk van beproewings en hersienings buite New York. Dit was net so waar in die veertigerjare as vandag, en veral gedurende die oorlogsjare, toe die vervaardigers van 'n innoverende klein musiekblyspel genaamd Weg gaan ons het werklik kommer gehad oor die kommersiële lewensvatbaarheid van hul vertoning. Selfs met lirieke en musiek deur twee van die voorste ligte van die teater, Weg gaan ons is deur baie geglo dat 'n flop in wording was. Inderdaad, 'n assistent van die beroemde skinderrubriekskrywer Walter Winchell het die heersende wysheid vasgelê in 'n telegram wat uit New Haven, Connecticut, gestuur is tydens die vertoning buite die stad. Sy boodskap lui: “Geen meisies nie. Geen bene nie. Geen kans." Dit sou blykbaar een van die mees onvoorspelbare voorspellings in die teatergeskiedenis wees toe die vertoning wat op 31 Maart 1943 op Broadway geopen is onder 'n nuwe titel—Oklahoma!- en hy het 'n Broadway -rekord van 2 212 optredes opgestel voordat hy 5 jaar later uiteindelik gesluit het.

Wat het dit gemaak Oklahoma! lyk dit so riskant? Vir die eerste keer was dit die eerste vertoning wat die reeds legendariese komponis Richard Rodgers onderneem het sonder sy jare lange lewensmaat, Lorenz Hart. Hart se drink en ander persoonlike probleme het hom in 1942 nie meer laat werk nie, en Rodgers sou sy volgende projek saam met 'n nuwe vennoot, die skrywer Oscar Hammerstein II, onderneem. Terwyl Rodgers en Hammerstein byna onmiddellik as 'n liedjieskrywer -duo geklik het, was die kreatiewe kanse waarmee hulle gewaag het Oklahoma! beduidend was. Daar was geen sterre by die vertoning betrokke nie, dit was gebaseer op relatief onduidelike bronmateriaal en was 'n ambisieuse eksperiment om musiek en dans te integreer in diens van storievertelling eerder as skouspel. In 'n tyd toe Broadway -musiekblyspele altyd met 'n 'knal' oopgemaak word Oklahoma! sou oopmaak met 'n eensame cowboy wat 'n sagte idille sing oor koring en weide.

Vanaf die eerste oomblik op die openingsaand het Oklahoma! raak 'n senuwee. Die choreograaf van die vertoning, die legendariese Agnes DeMille, herinner later aan die reaksie van die gehoor op die openingsnommer, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin ':" [Dit] sug uit die hele huis, wat ek nooit sou dink nie in die teater gehoor. Dit was net, 'aaaahh ...' Dit was absoluut heerlik en diep gevoel. " Van die reaksie op die titellied, "Oklahoma!", Het die aktrise Joan Roberts, die oorspronklike Laurey, gesê: "Die toejuiging was so oorverdowend, en dit het aangehou en aangehou. Ons het twee encores herhaal, en ons het daar gestaan ​​totdat hulle opgehou juig het! En ek het nie gedink dat hulle ooit sou nie! ” Die beroemde nommer is slegs weke tevore verander van 'n solo na 'n volledige showstopper, tydens die laaste tune-ups van die vertoning in Boston voor die begin van sy geskiedenis wat Broadway op hierdie dag in 1943 begin het.


Oklahoma! (Film uit 1955)

Oklahoma! is 'n Amerikaanse musikale film uit 1955 gebaseer op die gelyknamige musiekblyspel van 1943 deur Richard Rodgers en Oscar Hammerstein II, wat weer gebaseer was op die toneelstuk van 1931 Groen groei die lila geskryf deur Lynn Riggs. Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones (in haar filmdebuut), Rod Steiger, Charlotte Greenwood, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, James Whitmore en Eddie Albert. Die produksie was die enigste musiekblyspel deur Fred Zinnemann. [4] Oklahoma! was die eerste speelfilm wat in die Todd-AO 70 mm-grootskermproses afgeneem is (en terselfdertyd in CinemaScope 35mm verfilm is).

Dit speel in die Oklahoma -gebied en vertel die verhaal van die plaasmeisie Laurey Williams (Jones) en haar hofmakery deur twee mededingende vryers, die cowboy Curly McLain (MacRae) en die sinistere en skrikwekkende plaasman Jud Fry (Steiger). 'N Sekondêre romanse handel oor Laurey se vriend, Ado Annie (Grahame), en die cowboy Will Parker (Nelson), wat ook 'n onwillige mededinger het. 'N Agtergrondtema is die strewe van die gebied na staatskaping en die plaaslike konflik tussen veeboere en boere.

Die film het 'n goeie resensie gekry van Die New York Times, [5] en is aangewys as 'n "New York Times Critics Pick". [6] In 2007 het Oklahoma! is gekies vir bewaring in die United States National Film Registry deur die Library of Congress as 'kultureel, histories of esteties beduidend'. [7] [8]


'Oklahoma!' première op Broadway - GESKIEDENIS

Die liedjie "Oklahoma!" het nie net in 1953 die amptelike lied van die staat geword nie, maar die musiekblyspel van die titel het ook die aard van die Broadway -genre verander.

Die vertelling het sy oorsprong in 'n verhoogstuk, Groen groei die lila (getiteld uit 'n Ierse volkslied en met die ondertitel "A Folk-Play in Six Scenes"), deur die inwoner van Oklahoma, Lynn Riggs. Riggs se toneelstuk is vervaardig in New York, wat in Januarie 1931 in die Guild Theatre geopen is. Die plot, geleë in 1900 op die platteland van die Indiese gebied, sewe jaar voor die staat Oklahoma, draai om die konflik tussen boere en boere en speel af in 'n romantiese driehoek wat bestaan ​​uit 'n huurling van 'n cowboy -boeremeisie. 'N Bekoorlike, verwaande cowboy, Curly McClain (gespeel deur Franchot Tone), probeer 'n onskuldige, onvervulde plaasmeisie, Laurey Williams (gespeel deur June Walker), maar 'n wulpse, dreigende plaashand, Jeeter Fry (gespeel deur Richard Hale) ) wil haar ook hê. By 'n feestelike speelpartytjie en dans verwerp Laurie Jeeter se gewelddadige vooruitgang, en Curly vra om met haar te trou. Na die troue, by 'n tradisionele "shivaree", stry en baklei die twee mans, en Jeeter sterf deur op sy eie mes te val. Die toneelstuk eindig terwyl Curly uit die tronk ontsnap en sy huweliksnag saam met sy nuwe vrou deurbring.

In 1942 het die teatergilde 'n musikale verwerking van die toneelstuk beplan, en dit eers genoem Weg Ons Gaan! en later Oklahoma! Met draaiboek en lirieke van Oscar Hammerstein II en musikale partituur deur Richard Rodgers (hul eerste samewerking), choreografie deur Agnes DeMille en regie deur Rouben Mamoulian, het die produksie op 31 Maart 1943 in die St. James Theatre op Broadway geopen. Curly is uitgebeeld deur Alfred Drake, Laurey deur Joan Roberts en Jud (voorheen Jeeter) deur Howard Da Silva. Die dele van Ado Annie Carnes en 'n naamlose cowboy (nou Will Parker) is verhef tot 'n romantiese subplot, en Celeste Holm en Lee Dixon is gegooi. Betty Garde het tante Eller Murphy gespeel.

Broadway -gehore en teaterkritici, wat gewoond is aan 'n standaard musiekblyspelformule, is verras Oklahoma! Dit het die reëls oortree en 'n nuwe formule uitgevind. Dit was 'n toneelstuk met musiek (en word as ''n musikale toneelstuk' 'genoem), eerder as die gebruiklike vertoning met 'n dun plot wat nuwe liedjies bemark het. In Oklahoma! lirieke het as 'n ekstra dialoog gedien, eerder as om bloot die vokale vaardighede van 'n speler te wys. Dans verskaf 'n geïntegreerde dramatiese element, met vaardig gechoreografeerde ballet "droom" -reekse wat die onuitgesproke emosies en gedagtes van die karakters belig. Die karakters was sterk en goed gedefinieer. Daar was maar min komedie. Soos Hammerstein opgemerk het, '' Mr. Riggs 'spel is die bron van byna alles wat goed is Oklahoma! Ek het baie van die reëls van die oorspronklike toneelstuk behou sonder dat dit hoegenaamd verander is, om die eenvoudige rede dat dit nie verbeter kon word nie. . . . Lynn Riggs en Groen groei die lila is die siel van Oklahoma!'' Kritici het die musiekblyspel dikwels as 'n volksopera beskou.

Verskeie ontwikkelings het hierdie Broadway -musiekblyspel uniek gemaak. 'N "Album" met wysies, uitgevoer deur die oorspronklike rolverdeling in 1943 vir opnames in 78 rpm-formaat, was die eerste gebruik van hierdie musiekbemarkingstegniek. Die produksie was tot dusver die langste in die geskiedenis van Broadway, en sluit op 29 Mei 1948 na 2,212 optredes. Tien miljoen mense het die vertoning op sy nasionale toer deur 250 stede van Oktober 1943 tot April 1954 gesien.

In November 1946 kom die geselskap vir die eerste keer na Oklahoma en lewer agt optredes in Oklahoma City in die Municipal Auditorium. 'N Uitbundige première wat deur goewerneur Robert Kerr aangebied is, vermaak die produsente van die Theatre Guild sowel as Rodgers en Hammerstein. In die loop van die produksie het die inwoner van McAlester en die universiteit van Tulsa Ridge Bond die rol van Curly gesing in vyftienhonderd optredes in New York en in die nasionale toerkompanie.

In 1955 sit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Oklahoma! op die skerm. Die Hollywood -aanpassing was oor die algemeen getrou aan albei die vorige weergawes. Die vervaardiger Arthur Hornblow het egter opgemerk dat "Oklahoma net nie meer soos die Oklahoma van 1907 lyk nie", het die buitesegmente naby Nogales, Arizona, verfilm. Gordon MacRae as Curly, Shirley Jones as Laurey, Rod Steiger as Jud, Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie, Gene Nelson as Will Parker en Charlotte Greenwood as tante Eller. Barbara Lawrence, gebore in Oklahoma, speel Gertie Cummings. Die wêreldpremier, wat in New York gehou is, het 'n parade onder leiding van die goewerneur van Oklahoma, Raymond Gary, ingesluit. In 1956 het die film Oscar -toekennings gewen vir die beste musiek en beste klankopname, en is dit genomineer vir filmversorging en kinematografie.

In April 1953 stel die staatshoof van Oklahoma, George Nigh, van McAlester 'n wetsontwerp in om die amptelike liedjie van Oklahoma, "Oklahoma, A Toast", te vervang met die titellied van die musiekblyspel. 'N Paar wetgewers en inwoners maak beswaar daarteen. Sommige het dit moeilik gevind om die liedjie te sing en het gedink dat dit moeilik sou wees vir studente om te leer. Ander het die deuntjie se "slangy language" veroordeel of wou 'n liedjie hê wat deur 'n Oklahoman geskryf is. Die Staatsfederasie van Vroueklubs het hom beywer vir die tradisionele Camden -deuntjie. Omgekeerd het die wetgewer Boyd Cowden die voorkeur gegee aan "Oklahoma!" omdat hy geglo het dat die liedjie en die Broadway -vertoning baie gedoen het om die negatiewe beeld wat Steinbeck se roman uit 1939 geskep het, uit te wis Die druiwe van toorn. Die maatreël het geslaag, goewerneur Johnston Murray het dit onderteken en dit het op 5 September 1953 van krag geword.

By Oklahoma!se vyf-en-twintigste herdenking en net na die sestigste van die staat, in Januarie 1968, het goewerneur Dewey Bartlett 'n gelukwensende telegram van Richard Rodgers ontvang en gesê dat dit 'merkwaardig is dat u staat so 'n benydenswaardige rekord van vordering gemaak het in die sestig kort jare sedert staatskaping. " Die vertoning is daarna op Broadway herleef in 1951, 1979 en 2002. Daar is 'n algemene konsensus dat die musiekblyspel meer gedoen het om die openbare beeld van die staat te verbeter as enige ander poging wat ooit aangewend is.

Bibliografie

Gerald Bordman, Amerikaanse musiekteater: 'n kroniek (2de uitg. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Ethan Mordden, Beautiful Morning: The Broadway Musical in die veertigerjare (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Max Wilk, OK! Die verhaal van Oklahoma! (New York: Grove Press, 1993).

Geen deel van hierdie webwerf mag as 'n openbare domein beskou word nie.

Kopiereg op alle artikels en ander inhoud in die aanlyn- en gedrukte weergawes van Die ensiklopedie van die geskiedenis van Oklahoma word gehou deur die Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). Dit bevat individuele artikels (outeursreg op OHS volgens outeuropdrag) en korporatief (as 'n volledige werk), insluitend webontwerp, grafika, soekfunksies en lys-/blaai -metodes. Kopiereg op al hierdie materiaal word beskerm onder die Amerikaanse en internasionale wetgewing.

Gebruikers stem in om nie hierdie materiaal af te laai, te kopieer, aan te pas, te verkoop, te verhuur, te huur, te herdruk of andersins te versprei nie, of om na hierdie materiaal op 'n ander webwerf te skakel, sonder toestemming van die Oklahoma Historical Society. Individuele gebruikers moet bepaal of hul gebruik van die materiaal onder die Amerikaanse kopieregwetgewing se "quotair gebruik" -riglyne val en nie inbreuk maak op die eiendomsreg van die Oklahoma Historical Society as die wettige kopiereghouer van Die ensiklopedie van die geskiedenis van Oklahoma en gedeeltelik of geheel.

Fotokrediete: Alle foto's word in die gepubliseerde en aanlyn weergawes van Die ensiklopedie van die geskiedenis en kultuur van Oklahoma is die eiendom van die Oklahoma Historical Society (tensy anders vermeld).

Aanhaling

Die volgende (volgens Die Chicago Manual of Style, 17de uitgawe) is die voorkeuraanhaling vir artikels:
Dianna Everett, en ldquoOklahoma!, & rdquo Die ensiklopedie van die geskiedenis en kultuur van Oklahoma, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=OK090.

© Oklahoma Historical Society.

Oklahoma Historical Society | 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 | 405-521-2491
Webwerfindeks | Kontak ons ​​| Privaatheid | Perskamer | Webwerf Navrae


“Oklahoma! ” 'n Historiese perspektief

Die 60 -jarige Arena Stage en sy artistieke direkteur Molly Smith het onlangs die deure na sy argitektonies majestueuse nuwe Mead Center for American Theatre oopgemaak vir goeie resensies met die herlewing van die groot Amerikaanse klassieke, Rodger en Hammersteins se "Oklahoma!" Dit het my terug laat kyk na die begin van 'n belangrike mylpaal in die geskiedenis en ontwikkeling van die Amerikaanse teater.

Die openingsaand was 31 Maart 1943 in die St. James Theatre in 44th St. Dit was slegs 16 maande sedert die aanval op Pearl Harbor. Die gordyn maak oop vir 'n eenvoudige toneel van die Amerikaanse westelike grens. Die teater was nie uitverkoop nie. Sukses is nie verseker nie.

“Oklahoma!” was die eerste samewerking van Richard Rodgers sonder sy lang lewensmaat, die skrywer Lorenz (Larry) Hart. Die produktiewe span van Rodgers en Hart het 'n kwarteeu geduur en geboorte geskenk aan 'n paar van Amerika se grootste liedjies. Maar Hart was 'n chroniese alkoholis en het die afgelope tyd moeiliker geword om mee te werk. Hy sou vir lang tye geheimsinnig verdwyn. Hart se lirieke vir hul laaste samewerking, "By Jupiter," is geskryf terwyl hy in 'n hospitaalkamer opdroog. Sy gesondheid het agteruitgegaan. Oor minder as 'n jaar sou Larry Hart op 48 -jarige ouderdom aan longontsteking sterf.

Die aanvanklike konsep vir die vertoning "Oklahoma!" kom van Theresa Helburn, 'n mede-regisseur en stigter van die Theatre Guild, wat destyds finansieel swaar gekry het. Sy ken en bewonder Richard Rodgers sedert 1925, toe die Guild die eerste Rodgers en Hart -trefferprogram, "The Garrick Gaieties", vervaardig het. Die uitgangspunt vir "Oklahoma!" ontstaan ​​uit 'n toneelstuk van Lynn Riggs uit 1931, "Green Grow the Lilacs", wat nie baie goed gevaar het nie, met slegs 62 optredes.

Die toneelstuk speel af in die gebied waar Riggs aan die begin van die eeu gebore en grootgeword het, die Indiese gebied Oklahoma. In Julie 1940 was daar 'n herlewing van die toneelstuk in Westport, Connecticut. Na die herlewing het Helburn begin om die idee van die toneelstuk as musiekblyspel te bevorder. Beide Rodgers en Hammerstein het afsonderlik in die idee belanggestel.

Tydens die proewe was daar 'n lug van pessimisme rondom die vertoning. Oscar Hammerstein II was destyds op 'n laagtepunt in sy loopbaan. Hy het jare lank nie 'n treffer behaal nie. Die nuwe span van Rodgers en Hammerstein as 'n paar is nie getoets nie en het probleme ondervind om geld in te samel om die produksie na Broadway te kry. Tydens die oorlog was daar min geld, en min het vertroue in 'n musiekblyspel wat gebaseer is op 'cowboys en plaasmanne'. Konvensionele wysheid het geglo dat 'n vertoning nie 'n treffer kan wees as dit 'n moord bevat nie. Die nuwe span moes geld spaar, en die jong rolverdeling, hoewel talentvol, het bestaan ​​uit destydse relatiewe onbekendes, waaronder Alfred Drake en Celeste Holm. Voor die tyd was rolle in musiekblyspele gevul met akteurs wat kon sing. Rodgers en Hammerstein werk omgekeerd en kies om die vertoning saam met sangers te speel wat kan optree. Helburn wou Groucho Marx vir die smous en Shirley Temple vir Laurey, maar RH het aangedring op wettige Broadway -kunstenaars.

Agnes De Mille se choreografie was een van die belangrikste innovasies van die vertoning. Maar sy het 'n twisgierige temperament en dring daarop aan om dansers aan te stel vir hul vermoëns, nie hul voorkoms nie. Die kragtige skinderrubriekskrywer Walter Winchell het geskryf dat die bekende vervaardiger Michael Todd tydens die New Haven -toets in die voorportaal gehoor is en gesê het: 'Geen bene nie. Geen grappies nie. Geen kans." (Wat Todd eintlik gesê het, het 'n ander woord vir "bene" gebruik, maar ek en Winchell het dit skoongemaak om dit te druk.)

Toe die program in New Haven probeer, het dit die titel 'Away We Go' gehad. Hammerstein wou dit oorspronklik 'Oklahoma' noem, maar die naam is verwerp omdat die mening was dat die gehoor dit kon verwar met 'Oakies' in the Grapes of Wrath. Toe die vertoning op Broadway aankom, is die titel terug verander na "Oklahoma!" hierdie keer met 'n uitroepteken vir nadruk.

Die rekordlopie van Oklahoma van vyf jaar en nege maande op Broadway was ononderbroke totdat My Fair Lady, wat in 1956 geopen is, dit uiteindelik breek in 1961. Die oorspronklike produksie van Oklahoma het 2 248 optredes aangebied, waaronder meer as 40 spesiale maters vir mense in die weermag. Dit speel vir byna 5 miljoen mense tydens die oorspronklike ren, en vir meer as 10 miljoen in sy eerste nasionale toer, wat van 1943 tot 1954 geduur het. Die Londense vertoning het nog 'n rekord opgestel. 'Oklahoma!' Het die nuwe span van Rodgers en Hammerstein groot finansiële beloning en roem gebring. In die eerste tien jaar het hy $ 5 miljoen wins gemaak met 'n aanvanklike belegging van $ 83,000. 'N Spesiale Pulitzer -prys is toegeken aan die nuwe span in 1944. Die nuwe vennootskap duur tot Hammerstein se dood in 1960.

Wat het "Oklahoma!" 'n sukses?

Die 'Broadway -musiekblyspel' was die eerste groot teatervorm wat in die VSA ontwikkel is, maar in 1943 was dit stilisties. Voor Oklahoma was die meeste trefferprogramme hoofsaaklik voertuie om die talente van sy sterre ten toon te stel. Hulle het min ernstig te sê gehad, en dit was nie nodig om die liedjies, danse, komedie -roetines en die skouspelagtige koormeisie -nommers te integreer nie.

Programme was duur om te plaas en geld was skaars tydens die depressie, sodat produsente toenemend konserwatief geraak het en grotendeels vasgehou het aan formules wat suksesse in die verlede gedryf het.

In "Oklahoma!" die musiekblyspel het 'n nuwe vorm gekry. Hierdie 'geïntegreerde musiekblyspel' was 'n revolusie in die Amerikaanse teater. “Oklahoma!” was die volledige sintese van musiek, libretto, lirieke, dans en toneelopvoering. Die vertoning het struktuur en 'n gevoel van dramatiese uitwerking wat tot dan toe slegs in 'n reguit, nie-musikale toneelstuk aanwesig was. Selfs die dansnommers het 'n integrale rol gespeel in die ontroering van die verhaal en die ontwikkeling van die karakters. Die wonderlike woorde en musiek het beslis baie te doen gehad met die sukses. Die partituur was so gewild dat dit die eerste musiekblyspel geword het met 'n volledige oorspronklike album van 'n groot etiket, wat begin het met die opname van oorspronklike cast -albums. Decca se swaar 6 rekordset het in die eerste jaar meer as 1 miljoen eksemplare verkoop. Later was dit een van die eerste opnames van 'n musiekblyspel wat op CD vrygestel is.

Oscar Hammerstein II word die voorste digter van die Amerikaanse musiekteater genoem. Van die begin af stel Hammerstein voor om die lirieke voor die musiek te skryf, sodat hy die algehele konsep van die musiekblyspel kan vorm. Vir Rodgers was dit in die omgekeerde volgorde van die manier waarop hy met Larry Hart gewerk het. Maar Rodgers se bemeestering van die genre word geïllustreer deur hierdie kort staaltjie: Dit het Oscar Hammerstein drie weke geneem om die liriek te skryf aan "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." Soos die verhaal vertel, het hy dit na Rodgers geneem, wat toe by sy huis in Connecticut was. Tot sy verbasing het Rodgers net tien minute geneem om die musiek te skryf. Rodgers het gesê dit was amper 'n refleks. Sy musikale gedagtes was so gekondisioneer deur die woorde dat dit 'so lank geneem het om dit te komponeer as om dit te speel'. Dit het een van die bekendste van Rodgers se liedjies geword. Julie Styne, een van die groot Amerikaanse liedjieskrywers, het geskryf: 'Niemand het ooit 'n stuk musiek geskryf aan reeds geskrewe woorde beter as Rodgers nie. Hy het dit altyd laat klink asof die musiek eers gekomponeer is. ”

Die tyd en die bui van die land was ook 'n bydraende faktor tot die sukses van "Oklahoma!" Die vertoning het 'n nostalgiese koord getref met die gehoor net uit die depressie en die Tweede Wêreldoorlog in. Die vertoning was 'n gunsteling datum vir dienspligtiges met verlof. In 1943, toe die vertoning geopen is, was die staat Oklahoma slegs 36 jaar oud. Dit herinner baie aan hul pioniersverlede, aan immigrante wat sukkel om wortels in 'n nuwe wêreld neer te sit. Amerika was skielik in 'n oorlog met drie fascistiese moondhede en sy mense wou graag in 'n beter toekoms glo. “Oklahoma!” het gegaan oor huis, familie, liefde en die triomf van goed oor kwaad - presies waarvoor Amerikaners baklei het.

U kan 'Oklahoma!' Geniet geregisseer deur Molly Smith, nou tot 26 Desember 2010 by die Arena Stage www.arenastage.com

[Hierdie artikel is oorspronklik op 10 November 2010 vir The Georgetowner gepubliseer.]


Oklahoma! Verhaal

Meer as 75 jaar nadat Rodgers en Hammerstein die Amerikaanse musiekblyspel herontdek het, is dit Oklahoma! soos u dit nog nooit gesien of gehoor het nie, en 'n nuwe idee vir die 21ste eeu gekry het. & ldquo Hierdie produksie het my geskok en ontroer, en rdquo is mal oor Frank Rich van New York Tydskrif. & ldquoVergeet u tradisionele idee van Oklahoma! Daniel Fish & rsquos waaghalsige, briljante, heeltemal absorberende herinterpretasie is donker en anders en skitterend so. & Rdquo (Die Daily Beast) & ldquo 'n Gewaagde, sexy, opwaartse rit en rdquo (NY1) dat & rsquos & ldquoas stimulerend en jolt & ndash en so vars & ndash soos gisteraand & rsquos koors droom. Oklahoma! is verstommend. & rdquo (Die New York Times)

Don & rsquot mis die nommer 1 teatergeleentheid van die jaar (Tydskrif, 2018) en kyk na die warmste kaartjie in die stad. & Rdquo (Town & amp Country) Speel tans slegs vir 'n beperkte tyd in die intiemste teater van Broadway en rsquos, Circle in the Square.


Twee Broadway Shows Demonteer die Amerikaanse mite

Damon Daunno en Rebecca Naomi Jones speel 'n rol in Daniel Fish se revisionistiese opvoering van "Oklahoma!", Wat die tokkel van die program uit die middel van die eeu verwyder en onthul wat in die kern verdraai en eroties was. Foto deur Little Fang

'Baie dinge gebeur met mense.' Dit was die woorde wat my agtervolg het toe ek die donker, sexy, vreemde, wrede nuwe herlewing van 'Oklahoma!' Op Broadway verlaat het. die ander nag-woorde so banaal en dodelik en Amerikaans soos Donald Rumsfeld se "Stuff happen." Hulle word uitgespreek deur tante Eller (Mary Testa), die rol wat elke ontluikende karakteraktrise in die sewende graad speel, wat nou as 'n patriargale handhawer beskou word, 'n variasie op tant Lydia uit 'The Handmaid's Tale'. Dit gebeur naby die einde van die vertoning, en sy praat met haar niggie, Laurey (Rebecca Naomi Jones), wat in Daniel Fish se revisionistiese toneel in 'n wit trourok gespat is met bloed. Krullerige (Damon Daunno), Laurey se nuwe cowboy -man, het pas sy romantiese mededinger, die eensame plaasman Jud Fry (Patrick Vaill), wie se lyk daar naby is, vermoor. Tannie Eller raai die getraumatiseerde Laurey aan om “gehard” te wees, en as Laurey onderbreek - “ek wens ek was soos jy is” - vertel tante Eller, “Viddelstokkies!” Testa lewer die lynsteen koud.

Hierna volg 'n vinnige verhoor van Curly. As u 'Oklahoma!' Nog nie gesien het nie U kan 'n rukkie vergewe word omdat u vergeet het dat dit eindig met 'n proeftoneel. Die hele ding is haastig en vervolmoedig - want Curly is die goeie ou, en die stadsoudstes het besluit dat hy nie sy huweliksnag in die tronk moet deurbring nie. 'N Federale marskalk ('n glimlaggende Anthony Cason) maak beswaar dat dit "nie reg sou wees nie" om Curly te bevry, maar hy word afgeskeep. In die meeste produksies verloop die verhoor soos 'n klug, terwyl die gehoor so graag soos tant Eller wil deurdring, sodat ons die gelukkige einde kan bereik. Maar Fish vertraag die volgorde tot 'n gruwelvertoning, met die karakters wat hitte pak en sameswerings staar, soos iets uit Tarantino, of miskien Jordan Peele. Sodra Curly vrygespreek is, breek die rolverdeling 'n herhaling van die openingsnommer in: 'I am have a beautiful feelin' / everythin's goin 'my way! " Jy voel siek.

Van al die donker vernuwings van Fish se toneelopvoering, is die proefpersoneel miskien die opwindendste. Fish se herlewing verwyder die middel van die eeu uit die Rodgers- en Hammerstein-klassieke om te onthul wat in die kern verdraai en eroties was. Curly, 'n happy-go-lucky cowboy, is nou 'n manipulerende crooner wat die gevaarlike sjarme van sy kitaar ken Jud is 'n porno-besete incel wat lyk soos Shaggy van "Scooby-Doo" en Laurey is 'n vrou in oorlog met haar eie libido, gelyktydig aangetrokke tot en afgeweer deur beide mans, alhoewel sy weinig meer as eiendom te wen het. ('N Letterlike veiling van vroue - of ten minste hul pasteie - gaan die verhoor vooraf.) Gewoonlik sterf Jud deur per ongeluk op sy mes te val, en laat Curly toe, wat hom al probeer dwing het tot selfmoord, in Wet I, om hom te skiet punteloos. Soos Fish verlede jaar aan Cynthia Zarin gesê het: 'Daar is iets wat my so Amerikaans is oor die laaste toneel, die oomblik van onmiddellike geheueverlies, van hoe vinnig ons voortgaan. Dit is byvoorbeeld nie baie Duits nie. Die Duitsers eet hul geskiedenis. Ons is onwillig om na ons eie misdade te kyk. ”

Terwyl ek die toneel bekyk, kon ek nie help om te dink aan 'n ander Off Broadway -treffer van verlede herfs wat die onwaarskynlike skuif na Broadway gemaak het nie: Heidi Schreck se briljante outobiografiese toneelstuk, "What the Constitution Means For Me", wat pas as finalis aangewys is. vir vanjaar se Pulitzer -prys vir drama. Schreck, afkomstig van die Samantha Bee-skool van uitbundige ontsteltenis, begin die vertoning deur te herinner aan haar jare as tiener in die Reagan-era in die staat Washington, en hou toesprake oor die Amerikaanse grondwet vir prysgeld in Amerikaanse Legion-sale. "Ek het regtig geglo dat daar geen groter demokrasie op aarde is nie, en dat hierdie dokument die mees geniale stuk politieke skryfwerk is wat ooit geskep is," het Schreck 'n paar maande gelede aan my gesê.

As volwassene het sy haar eerbied vir die dokument begin bevraagteken: Wie laat dit weg? Wat sou gebeur as ons dit verwyder en weer begin? Op die verhoog kyk sy weer na haar gesin se geskiedenis van gesinsgeweld - en die manier waarop die Grondwet nie die liggaam en regte van vroue beskerm het nie, asook dié van etniese en seksuele minderhede. Sy vertel ons van Castle Rock teen Gonzales, 'n saak van die Hooggeregshof in 2005 waarin 'n Colorado -vrou haar polisiedepartement dagvaar omdat sy nie 'n verbodsbevel teen haar beledigende man, wat daarna hul drie dogters vermoor het, behoorlik toegepas het nie. Schreck speel 'n klank uit die saak waarin die regters, wat die klousule van die veertiende wysiging ondersoek, meer tyd spandeer oor die betekenis van die woord "sal" as oor Gonzales. Die hof beslis teen haar. "Scalia het uiteindelik besluit dat 'sal' nie 'moet' beteken nie, 'sê Schreck. 'Dit is verwarrend omdat Scalia 'n toegewyde Katoliek was.

Sedert ek die twee programme Off Broadway gesien het, het ek gevoel dat "Oklahoma!" en "Wat die grondwet vir my beteken" is metgeselle, ondanks die feit dat dit uit die teenoorgestelde kante van die Amerikaanse teaterspektrum geslaan is-die Goue Eeu-musiekblyspel en eerste-persoon-uitvoeringskuns. Albei handel oor die grens, oor die buiging van geregtigheid en oor hoe Amerika se oorsprongverhaal nie so sonnig is as wat dit was nie. (Beide moet ek byvoeg, is vermaaklik en snaaks.) Soos die Coen -broers se film "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", Fish's "Oklahoma!" skeur die romanse uit die mite van westelike uitbreiding, net soos Schreck die "Schoolhouse Rock!" corniness van Amerikaanse regering. In albei gevalle is die sprokie 'n bedekking, wat liggame en bloed verduister. Het Jessica Gonzales meer geregtigheid gekry as Jud Fry? En is 'Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' 'minder bedrieglik as' We the People '? Dit is opmerklik dat beide vertonings in 2007 ontstaan ​​het, laat in die ontnugterende George W. Bush -jare - "Oklahoma!" as 'n Bard College-produksie met 'n studente-rolverdeling en 'Constitution' as 'n stuk van tien minute tydens 'n East Village-variëteite-aand-en het 'n goeie pas in die Trump-era gekry. Tussenin, onder Barack Obama, kom "Hamilton", wat die stigting van Amerika as uitgestrek en koel beskou het, wat die koers vir onverbiddelike vooruitgang sou stel. 'N Nalatenskap, sê Alexander Hamilton van Lin-Manuel Miranda, herinner ons daaraan: "plant saad in 'n tuin wat u nooit kan sien nie." Maar wat as die grond siek is?

'Oklahoma !,', wat in 1943 verskyn het, moes ons seker al die hele tyd laat opduik het. Dit begin met 'n cowboy wat van plan was om die huwelik van sy vriendin vir vyftig dollar te koop, terwyl tant Eller vir Curly sê dat as haar niggie hom probeer afweer, hy haar moet "gryp en soen". In die skrikwekkende oomblikke, wat Fish dreigend op die voorgrond stel, word ek herinner aan die verhale van Schreck van haar oumagrootjie Theressa, 'n posbestelbruid wat in 1879 uit Duitsland na die Washington-staat geëmigreer het. 'Die rede waarom Theressa as' goed 'beskou is immigrant is omdat die verhouding tussen man en vrou in die staat Washington nege tot een was, ”vertel Schreck aan die gehoor. In haar navorsing het sy gelyktydige koerantberigte gevind uit die houthuis waar Theressa gevestig is, gevul met gruwelike opskrifte van gesinsgeweld, soos 'Man se vrou se gesig met stekende stewels'. Theressa sterf in 'n geestesinstelling, op ses-en-dertig, aan 'melancholie'.

Sny terug na tante Eller, aan die einde van "Oklahoma !," en sê vir Laurey: "Jy verdien nie die lieflike en teer dinge in die lewe nie, as jy nie moeilik is nie." Soos Theressa, ly Laurey, soos deur Jones uitgebeeld, aan wat melancholie genoem kan word. Dit lyk asof sy weet dat nie een van haar opsies goed is nie - sy is opgewonde, maar skrikkerig deur Jud, en geïrriteerd, maar tog veilig by Curly. Laurey is gehard, maar sy is ook vasgekeer - 'n grensvrou wie se waarde, net soos Theressa, in die huwelik lê. Soms laat Fish haar in 'n lae groen lig sing, asof sy direk vanuit haar ondergrondse begeertes kommunikeer. Jones glimlag nie die minste nie, terwyl sy een van Rodgers en Hammerstein se mooiste liedjies, "Many a New Day", sing:

Menige rooi son sal ondergaan,
Menige blou maan sal skyn
Voordat ek dit doen.

Beide programme het ontstellende verhale oor staatskaping. 'Oklahoma !,', gebaseer op die toneelstuk 'Green Grow the Lilacs' uit 1931, speel af in 1906, toe Oklahoma op die punt was om die ses-en-veertigste staat te word. In daardie jaar het die kongres die Oklahoma Enabling Act goedgekeur, wat die Oklahoma Territory en Indian Territory toegelaat het om die Unie binne 'n grondwet van een staat te betree, wat dit die volgende jaar gedoen het. (Die bynaam van Oklahoma, die Sooner State, verwys na die setlaars wat in 1889 'n landopname voorgekom het en beweer het dat sommige van die destydse Unassigned Lands genoem is, alhoewel die gebied bewoon is deur verpligte kreke en Seminoles.) Die musiekblyspel speel af in Claremore, in Indian Territory, en sy karakters verwag staatskaping met helder tekste soos 'Territory people should stick together' en 'Splinternuwe staat, gaan jou geweldig behandel!' By die verhoor van Curly hang die gebiedsgroepe natuurlik saam, en u hoef te wonder oor wie se koste dit is.

Schreck se geboorteland Washington-die immergroen staat-is vroeër in 1889 in die vakbond opgeneem, tien jaar nadat haar oumagrootjie uit Duitsland gekom het. 'Onthou u die ding wat ek gesê het oor die verhouding tussen man en vrou in die staat Washington van nege tot een?' Sê Schreck laat in die stuk. “Ja. Dis snert. Dit is wat my geskiedenisonderwyser, mnr. Berger, my op vyftien in my Pacific Northwest History -klas geleer het. ” Natuurlik was daar vroue uit die Wenatchi en Salish stamme, maar in die nuwe nasie waarby Washington aangesluit het, het hulle nie getel nie. Die huwelik - die wit soort - was 'n noodsaaklike transaksie vir staatskaping, waarvoor Theressa gekoop is en dan in die Western State -hospitaal laat verdor het.


Oklahoma!

Eers agterna lyk dit verbasend dat daar leë sitplekke in die St. James -teater was die aand Oklahoma! op 31 Maart 1943 geopen.

Geen lid van die rolverdeling kon immers op afstand 'n ster genoem word nie. Die Theatre Guild, wat dit vervaardig het, was aan die einde van sy finansiële tou na 'n rampspoedige reeks mislukkings. Agnes de Mille, die choreograaf, bekend en gerespekteer in die klein wêreld van ernstige dans, het nog nie 'n Broadway -sukses behaal nie. Rouben Mamoulian, hoofsaaklik 'n filmregisseur, het slegs een vorige Broadway -musiekspel, Porgy en Bess, 'n artistieke sukses, maar 'n finansiële mislukking, gedoen. Richard Rodgers het vir die eerste keer in sy loopbaan liedjies saam met iemand anders as Lorenz Hart geskryf, en niemand, insluitend homself, het geweet hoe hy sou doen nie. Oscar Hammerstein II het intussen ses Broadway -flops in 'n ry gehad.

Die slim geld het beslis nie veel verwag nie. Die vervaardiger Mike Todd, wat ná die eerste daad tydens die vertoning in die New Haven -uitstappie uitgestap het, het na New York teruggekeer: 'Geen bene, geen grappies, geen kans nie.'

Maar Mike Todd was verkeerd. In plaas daarvan het Samuel Johnson, soos gewoonlik, reg geblyk, en die vooruitsig om, ten minste professioneel, gehang te word, het die gedagtes wonderlik gekonsentreer. Die volgende dag was die resensies byna eenparig, en Mike Todd het haastig ontken dat hy die program ooit 'n slegte mond gehad het. The police had to be summoned to cope with a near-riot at the box office. Oklahoma! won a special Pulitzer Prize. By the time it closed half a decade later, Oklahoma! had run more than three times as long as any book musical in history. Its investors earned thirty-three dollars in return for each one they had risked. And the following seventeen years are still remembered on Broadway as the Rodgers and Hammerstein era.

The show that had had no chance became the most important musical in Broadway history.

Richard Rodgers was born in New York City in 1902 into a prosperous family. His father was a doctor (as, later, would be his older brother, Mortimer). Although no relative had ever been a professional musician, there was a strong family love of music. His mother played the piano well, and group singing of the latest hit songs was a common evening’s entertainment in the household. Rodgers, at a very early age, showed extraordinary musical aptitude, playing easily by ear. Before long he was displaying that rarest of all musical talents, a gift for melody, picking out tunes of his own devising.

He soon decided on a career in the theater, and his family, most unusually, encouraged him in this, even backing his decision to transfer from Columbia University to the Institute of Musical Art (now known as the Juilliard School). Because of his Juilliard training, Rodgers was among the most musically well educated of the Broadway composers of his time. (Irving Berlin, by way of contrast, could not even read music.)

At Columbia, Rodgers had met the budding lyricist Lorenz Hart and soon started writing songs with him. For the next twenty years Rodgers and Hart were to be that great exception in the artistically promiscuous world of the musical theater: an exclusive songwriting team. (Indeed, there had been only one earlier, Gilbert and Sullivan, and even today, nearly fifty years after Hart’s death, there have been only two others, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kander and Ebb.)

From the beginning in 1925, with The Garrick Gaieties , when Rodgers was not quite twenty-three and Hart was thirty, the pair knew almost nothing but success. In the late thirties and early forties, after a frustrating period in Hollywood, they returned to Broadway and turned out one big hit show after another: On Your Toes , Babes in Arms , Pal Joey , and By Jupiter among them. Many of the Rodgers and Hart shows were highly innovative, pushing the musical-comedy form in new directions.

Rodgers married in 1930 and fathered two daughters. With his success and his happy family, he had the world on a string. But Hart, as he moved into middle age, was an increasingly tormented man. Although he was enormously gifted with language, that did not compensate for the fact that he was only about five feet tall, with the big head and short limbs of the dwarf he very nearly was. Further, he was a homosexual in a time when homosexuality was considered at best a grave personal misfortune, at worst a matter of moral turpitude.

Hart spent his life deep in the closet, and this, in turn, engendered in him a sadness at the core of his being that slowly congealed into a profound selfloathing. He would have subscribed fully to what his contemporary and fellow poet Samuel Hoffenstein meant when he wrote, “Everywhere I go, I go too, and spoil everything.”

In his early days Hart made up for his loneliness with both his work and his frenetic personality. Hammerstein, who knew him well, recalled him after his death as having been like “an electrified gnome,” always on the run, tossing off jokes, grabbing checks, throwing parties, trying—a little too hard—to be everyone’s friend. Later Hart turned more and more to alcohol. He took to disappearing for days at a time or showing up in no condition to work.

Rodgers, a fastidious, careful, punctual man, bore Hart’s deteriorating behavior with great patience, not usually a virtue for which Rodgers was noted. When Hart would disappear while a deadline loomed, his partner would search for him, get him dried out, and then more or less lock the two of them in a room with a piano until Hart had produced the needed lyrics. This Hart would do with astonishing facility, often in little more time than it took him to write down the words. The job done, Rodgers would let him go, and he would hurry back to the oblivion that now alone dulled the pain of being Larry Hart.

Together they created extraordinary songs, songs that often achieved their power and longevity from the very tension between the opposite natures of the two creators.

Just consider one of their most famous, “Falling in Love with Love,” from The Boys from Syracuse (1938). The music is one of Rodgers’s sunniest, most lilting waltzes, but set in a minor key to match Hart’s lyric, which speaks for itself: “Falling in love with love,/Is falling for make-believe./Falling in love with love/Is playing the fool./Caring too much is such/A juvenile fancy./Learning to trust is just/For children in school./I fell in love with love/One night when the moon was full./I was unwise, with eyes/Unable to see./I fell in love with love,/With love everlasting,/But love fell out with me.”

Even before By Jupiter opened in 1942 and became the biggest hit Rodgers and Hart ever wrote, Rodgers realized that his partner’s ability to write another show was problematic at best. He also knew that he himself needed to keep on working, even if his partner could not. Rodgers didn’t know where to turn, so he turned, as so many in the New York theater did when they needed advice, to Oscar Hammerstein II.

Unlike Rodgers, Hammerstein was born to the theater as few Broadway giants were. His grandfather and namesake was probably the most famous person in American show business in the two decades surrounding the turn of the century. His Victoria Theatre of Varieties on Times Square, which opened in 1904, was an enormously successful vaudeville house, providing the money Oscar Hammerstein needed to fulfill a dream. He wanted to compete head-on with the Metropolitan Opera Company, the most important, and by far the richest, opera company in the Western Hemisphere.

For four years the plucky, theatrically innovative immigrant with a genius for publicity and a passion for opera battled the august, stodgy, endlessly wealthy Metropolitan. The contest transfixed the world of opera and titillated the nation. Hammerstein’s vibrant, totally professional productions were remembered by all who saw them for the rest of their lives, but finally even Hammerstein had to accede to reality. He was broke. Asked by a friend what he was opening his season with, Hammerstein snapped, “With debts.” He got some of it back, however, when he sold out to the Metropolitan for a million dollars.

While Oscar I was using the profits of the Victoria to fight for supremacy in opera, his son William (the father of Oscar II) worked as the Victoria’s manager to see that those profits kept rolling in. While far more down-to-earth than his father, William was equally creative as a theatrical manager. It was Willie Hammerstein who was credited with having invented that perennial favorite of lowbrow comedy, the pie-in-the-face routine.

Under the circumstances, young Oscar, who was born in 1895, could hardly have escaped a careful education in the theater, from La Bohème to blackface, but Willie did not want his children to take up show business as a career. So Oscar II went to Columbia University and then entered Columbia Law School. But the law bored him, and he dropped out. His father now dead, he pestered his uncle Arthur Hammerstein, a well-known Broadway producer, for a job and was soon working as a stage manager and writing plays and songs, usually in collaboration with others.

He married early, and unsuccessfully, but soon had his first Broadway hit, the musical comedy Wildflower , in 1923. It had music by Vincent Youmans and a book and lyrics written jointly by Hammerstein and Otto Harbach. Although Wildflower was a big hit for the time (in fact, it ran longer than any show ever written by Rodgers and Hart), there was little to distinguish it from all the other musical comedies that opened and closed on Broadway with great regularity at the time.

Musical comedy had its roots in vaudeville. The plots of these shows were slight, the characters pasteboard, and the jokes and songs often had little, if anything, to do with either. But musical comedies could also be very inventive, often on the cutting edge of popular music. Moreover, musicalcomedy lyrics, at least for the major songs, were carefully written, poetically sophisticated, and often extremely witty. As with Gilbert and Sullivan, and unlike European musical theater, they were as important as the music itself.

From early on Hammerstein sought to expand the boundaries of the purely American musical-comedy form. He wanted to bring it closer to the op- eretta, a much more dramatically solid kind of musical theater that had roots in Berlin and especially Vienna, as well as a long Broadway tradition. With his next big hit, Rose Marie , in 1924, he began to do so. Then, in 1927, he and Jerome Kern wrote Show Boat .

Today Show Boat is the only musical of the 1920s that can hold the boards in its own right, not just as a historical curiosity with good songs. It is, in every sense of the word, a masterpiece. Hammerstein was always at his best adapting the work of others, and his dramatization of Edna Ferber’s sprawling novel was a marvel of concision. The score was an integrated whole, arising out of the dramatic situation. Yet it produced no fewer than six songs that became standards.

In one of these songs, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” Hammerstein for the first time expressed what would become a constant theme in his later work: the idea that human love is an elemental force in human nature, quite beyond the control of those who experience it. “Tell me he’s lazy, tell me he’s slow./Tell me I’m crazy (maybe I know)—/Can’t help lovin’ dat man of mine.”

Doubtless this expressed a long-held belief. Doubtless also, it reflected his recent encounter “across a crowded room” with Dorothy Blanchard, who was to be his second wife and the love of his life. Twenty years later, when his lyrics were published in book form, he dedicated the volume, simply, “To Dorothy, the song is you.”

But as the twenties gave way to the thirties, and boom to depression, Hammerstein’s style of musical—romantic, concerned with character and the nature of love—went out of style. Instead shows featuring the lives of the rich and set in penthouses and ocean liners—the Broadway-musical version of Hollywood screwball comedies—came into vogue.

Although Hammerstein and Kern’s Music in the Air was the big hit of the dismal 1932 season, it would be Hammerstein’s last success for eleven long years. His only hits thereafter were occasional individual songs such as “All the Things You Are” and “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”

This last song was most atypical of Hammerstein. For one thing, it was one of the very few he ever wrote not intended for a particular play or movie. (It was later interpolated into the movie Lady Be Good and won the Academy Award for best song in 1941.) He had written the lyric only because he was so saddened by the fall of Paris, a city he deeply loved, to the Nazis in the early summer of 1940. Jerome Kern then set it to music.

Further, it showed a side of Hammerstein that was not often revealed in his work. For if he was not a particularly urban man, he was a thoroughly urbane and sophisticated one and was quite as much at home in Paris as at his beloved Pennsylvania farm. Even there, as his potégé Stephen Sondheim explained, if the cattle were often standing like statues, they did so right beyond the tennis court.

Despite the success of “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” when Rodgers called him in the summer of 1941, the wisdom on that hard-nosed thoroughfare they both knew so well had it that Hammerstein’s Broadway career was washed up.

Hammerstein’s response to Rodgers’s plea for advice was typical of the man. He told Rodgers that he should keep working with Hart for as long as possible. He thought that for Rodgers to walk away from his partner now would kill him. But he told Rodgers that if the time came when Hart was unable to finish a job, he should let him know and he would finish it for him, with no one but the two of them the wiser.

After Rodgers and Hart completed By Jupiter (Rodgers got Hart to check into a hospital until the score was completed), Rodgers, as always, immediately looked for another project.

The Theatre Guild, in 1931, had produced a play by Lynn Riggs called Green Grow the Lilacs . It had been a flop then, but Theresa Helburn and Lawrence Langner, who ran the Guild, thought it had possibilities as a musical. Rodgers immediately saw the potential Hart was less enthusiastic.

To be sure, Hart had reasons beyond a desire to just drink. Rodgers and Hart had never written a musical with a Western setting. Most of their shows had been set either in semimythical places, like ancient Greece, or in great cities. Indeed, the most Western song they had ever written was probably “Way Out West on West End Avenue,” from Babes in Arms .

By pure coincidence, Hammerstein also had sensed the musical in Green Grow the Lilacs , in early 1942. He went to California and tried to interest Jerome Kern, then living in Beverly Hills, but Kern just didn’t see it. Returning East, Hammerstein nonetheless asked the Theatre Guild for the rights. He was told that Rodgers and Hart had already been given them, but that they needed someone to write the book. Hammerstein jumped at it.

On July 23, 1943, there appeared a notice in The New York Times that the trio would begin work shortly, Rodgers on music, Hart on lyrics, and Hammerstein on the book.

But the more Hart thought about it, the less he wanted anything to do with it. He wanted to go off to Mexico. He didn’t want to think about doing another show. And he certainly didn’t want to make a musical of Green Grow the Lilacs .

Rodgers, perhaps sensing with the instincts of genius a golden opportunity, was determined. He warned Hart that the show meant a lot to him. If Hart refused, he said, he would have to look for another collaborator to write the lyrics.

“Anyone in mind?” Hart asked.

“Well,” said Hart, who had destroyed only himself, not the feel for theater that made him great, “you couldn’t pick a better man.” Rodgers and Hart had become Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein had become Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Hammerstein was as different from Hart as two great lyricists could possibly be. Hart’s lyrics were intricate, witty, bittersweet. His talent for rhyming was surpassed by no one and equaled, perhaps, only by W. S. Gilbert and, later, Stephen Sondheim. Hammerstein’s lyrics were carefully wrought and deceptively simple, more concerned with character than with being clever. Hammerstein could never have written the words to “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” or “Glad to Be Unhappy.” But equally Hart could never have written “Ol’ Man River” or “If I Loved You.”

There were great personal differences as well. Hammerstein was large, over six foot two. He was at peace with himself. He rose early and drank little. He was a careful and very hard worker. The methodical Rodgers, after years of having to pry his lyricist out of gin mills and steam rooms to get a song written, found Hammerstein’s work habits a great relief, and the two hit it off as collaborators from the start.

As they set to work on turning Green Grow the Lilacs into a musical, they made two decisions almost immediately that had a deep impact on Oklahoma! The first was that Hammerstein would write the lyrics and Rodgers would then set them to music.

Hart had always needed a tune to provoke the lyrics out of him. Indeed, writing the music first had long been the usual, and peculiar, Broadway custom. It stemmed, perhaps, from the fact that many early Broadway composers had been European, with limited command of English and its stress patterns.

By reversing the procedure, Hammerstein had a much freer hand to find the exact right words for the character and the situation. The effect of this way of writing songs on Rodgers’s music was marked, and the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein would sound very different from that of Rodgers and Hart, while still always sounding ineluctably of Richard Rodgers.

The second decision was to let the dramatic situation, not Broadway musical conventions, dictate what happened onstage. For instance, convention said that it was important to get the chorus line on view as soon as possible, preferably for the opening number. But it would be nearly forty minutes before the chorus of Oklahoma! appeared onstage. (This, of course, was the origin of Mike Todd’s “no legs” complaint.)

With this decision made, the new partners soon worked out the basic plot and the placement of the songs. The plot revolves around the mutual attraction of Curly, a cowboy, and Laurey, who lives on a farm with her Aunt Eller and the sinister farmhand Jud. While both are determined not to appear too anxious, it is obvious early on that Curly and Laurey are hopelessly in love. This mutual ambivalence underlies all the songs involving the two, from “Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” to “Many a New Day,” “Out of My Dreams,” and even their big love song, “People Will Say We’re in Love.” A subplot involving a farmer, Will Parker, of no great brains, and Ado Annie, his girl who just “Cain’t Sav No,” provides comic relief.

Jud, also smitten with Laurey, complicates matters considerably and adds what dramatic darkness there is to a mostly sunny and positive show, especially with the brooding song “Lonely Room.” He scares Laurey into accepting his offer to take her to a box social. In the dream ballet Laurey’s anxieties about men in general and Jud in particular come out.

At the box social Jud tries to force himself on Laurey, who summons her courage and fires him. He vows revenge and slinks away, while Curly comes to Laurey’s rescue and they both finally admit how much they love each other. On their wedding day the couple and their guests sing, in the song “Oklahoma,” about their upcoming life together in what will soon be a brand-new state. Then, suddenly, Jud shows up and gets into a fight with Curly. He attacks with a knife but accidentally falls on it and is killed. Curly is quickly found not guilty of any wrongdoing, and he and Laurey set off on their honeymoon.

The writing of Oklahoma! moved along relatively easily. But as Stephen Sondheim would explain many years later, “Creating art is easy. Financing it is not.” And never was that more true than with Oklahoma! The Theatre Guild had usually financed its shows out of its own resources. Now it no longer could afford the eighty-three thousand dollars at which Oklahoma! was budgeted.

To help raise the money, Rodgers and Hammerstein were forced to take to the “penthouse circuit,” where, in the early days, Rodgers would play the piano and Hammerstein would sing the lyrics. After Alfred Drake and Joan Roberts were cast as the leads, Hammerstein was mercifully relieved of this task.

Rodgers remembered one night going to an apartment that “was not only large enough to have a ballroom in it, it actually had a ballroom in it.” But while seventy people listened politely, nibbled canapés, and sipped champagne, they subscribed not one dime. Theresa Helburn and Lawrence Langner, who headed the Theatre Guild, called on everyone they knew and called in every chit they had out there. But it was long, slow work. Howard Cullman, a long-time Broadway angel, turned them down flat. (He later framed and hung Helburn’s letter over his desk to remind himself of what he had missed.) Max Gordon, another producer, invested, however, and in turn interested Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures. Cohn loved the show and tried to get the Columbia board to agree to provide the rest of the financing. For a brief period it seemed that the troubles were over.

But Cohn, who usually ruled Columbia with a firm hand, this time could not get the board to go along. He put up fifteen thousand dollars of his own money, but the Theatre Guild was still short of what was needed.

Theresa Helburn went to see S. N. Behrman, a playwright who had had many successes produced by the Theatre Guild over the years. “Sam, you’ve got to take twenty thousand dollars of this,” she said, “because the Guild has done so much for you.”

“But, Terry,” Behrman responded, “that’s blackmail.”

Blackmail or not, he gave her the money and thereby enriched himself by $660,000.

Rehearsals began in February 1943.

The Broadway musical is the most technically complex of all dramatic art forms for the simple reason that it includes elements of all the other forms. Composers, lyricists, directors, book writers, choreographers, actors, and set, costume, and lighting designers, musicians, dancers, singers, must all work together to create a finished whole.

As talented people usually come equipped with fully functional egos, the mounting of a new musical, even one with relatively few problems, is a trying time for all concerned. (Larry Gelbart, the librettist for several musicals, once said, “If Hitler’s still alive, I hope he’s out of town with a musical.”)

Agnes de Mille insisted at the outset that she have complete control over casting the chorus, but Hammerstein told her, deadpan, that she’d have to make room for everyone’s mistresses. Once she realized he was kidding, she relaxed a little. Rouben Mamoulian took the clause in his contract that gave him “a free hand” very seriously and was soon at loggerheads with de Mille. He banished her from the stage, and she was forced to rehearse the dancers in the downstairs lounge of the Guild Theatre (now the Virginia) on West Fifty-second Street, where the rehearsals were taking place.

When Rodgers and Hammerstein saw the sketches for the costumes before he did, Mamoulian had a thorough-going temper tantrum. Marc Platt, the male lead dancer, had to drag de Mille off screaming from one rehearsal that was going badly and hold her head under a cold-water faucet until she calmed down. Mamoulian wanted to enhance the farm atmosphere with live horses, cows, and chickens, a dramatic device that is expensive, difficult, risky, and notoriously unpopular with actors. He finally settled for a few pigeons, but the birds flew around the theater on opening night in New Haven and were never seen again.

Although everyone else lost their tempers, Rodgers and Hammerstein did not. Both were quietly confident throughout. One night in New Haven after a performance, when other members of the production, seated in the orchestra, were sniping at one another, Rodgers, onstage, said to them: “Do you know what I think is wrong? Almost nothing. Now why don’t you all quiet down?”

Hammerstein, whom de Mille described as “quietly giving off intelligence like a stove,” wrote his son, serving overseas in the Navy, “I think I have something this time.”

The show opened in New Haven on March 11, 1943, to audience enthusiasm and critical approval. Like all musicals in the process of creation, it ran too long and dragged in spots, but the changes made on the road were relatively small. To speed up the second act, they cut one song and reprised instead the first act’s big duet, “People Will Say We’re in Love.”

And they added one new one, “Oklahoma.” At first it was staged as a solo for Alfred Drake, but it was soon converted into a rousing full-company chorus number. They also changed the show’s title. It had opened in New Haven as Away We Go! , a name that no one liked. Many wanted to call the show Oklahoma , and everyone agreed when someone—apparently Hammerstein, but there is some confusion—suggested adding the most famous exclamation point in Broadway history.

Moving to Boston, the show was even better received than in New Haven, and the biggest problem was a wave of illness that swept through the chorus and others. Dorothy Hammerstein even had to be hospitalized.

If her husband was calm on the outside, he knew he had more riding on Oklahoma! than anyone else. If it was a seventh flop, he might well never get to write another Broadway show. A few hours before they left for New York and the opening, Hammerstein and his wife took a walk near their farm in Pennsylvania. “I don’t know what to do if they don’t like this,” he told her. “I don’t know what to do because this is the only kind of show I can write.”

At the St. James Theatre that night, Hammerstein, as was his custom, sat calmly in the orchestra, holding hands with Dorothy. Rodgers and most of the others paced the back of the theater. The overture over, the curtain went up to reveal an old lady churning butter on the front porch of a farmhouse. Off in the wings a baritone voice could be heard singing a cappella, “There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow …”

Hammerstein once said that if you get a musical off on the right foot, you can read to the audience from the Manhattan phone book for the next forty-five minutes and still not lose them. But if you get off on the wrong foot, it’s uphill work for the rest of the show. Perhaps that is why he spent three full weeks writing the words to “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’!”

His inspiration was Lynn Riggs’s stage directions for Green Grow the Lilacs , which Hammerstein liked so much he thought it a pity the audience didn’t get to hear them. “It is a radiant summer morning,” Riggs had written, “several years ago, the kind of morning which, enveloping the shapes of the earth, men, cattle in a meadow, blades of the young corn, streams—makes them seem to exist now for the first time, their images giving off a golden emanation that is partly true and partly a trick of the imagination, focusing to keep alive a loveliness that may pass away.”

The song, of course, became world famous virtually overnight, and it is impossible for us today to comprehend how fresh and captivating it must have sounded to that first-night audience of fifty years ago, virtually none of whom had ever heard it before. But in those first few moments they were transported by it, away from a New York theater and the blood and horror of the Second World War and off to an Oklahoma farm at the turn of the century where the biggest problem around was whether Curly could persuade Laurey to go with him to the box social that night.

And from those first few moments, too, Rodgers and Hammerstein had the audience in the palm of their hand. “Not only could I see it and hear it,” Hammerstein remembered of the audience’s reaction, “I could feel it. The glow was like the light from a thousand lanterns. You could feel the glow, it was that bright.”

Brooks Atkinson, the New York Times drama critic for many years, believed that it was this very song that changed the history of musical theater.Quotingthe song’s last verse, “All the sounds of the earth are like music—/All the sounds of the earth are like music./The breeze is so busy it don’t miss a tree/And an ol’ weepin’ wilier is laughing at me!”

Atkinson wrote, “After a verse like that, sung to a buoyant melody, the banalities of the old musical stage became intolerable.”

Thus the importance of Oklahoma! to the American musical theater can be simply stated. All musicals written before it immediately seemed old-fashioned, even, in some ways, Show Boat . No musical written since has been unaffected by it.

It is not that it had the greatest score in Broadway history, although it’s probably on most people’s top-ten list. It was not the first musical to incorporate elements of the classical ballet ( On Your Toes did that in 1936). Its plot was not very original indeed, it was basically boy-meets-girl. It was not the first musical to be set in a genuine American past ( Show Boat had done that in 1927).

Rather, what Oklahoma! did was to weave these elements together into a seamless web of theatrical magic that was, in its whole, strikingly original. Further, because it had been written as dramatic logic rather than Broadway musical convention dictated, it liberated the Broadway musical forever from much of that very convention.

This in turn—thanks in part, of course, to the staggering commercial success of the show—stimulated a burst of creativity at the hands of not only Oklahoma! ’s own authors but Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Lerner and Loewe, Burton Lane, Kurt Weill, Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg, Frank Loesser, Jule Stein, Comden and Greene, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, Kander and Ebb, Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim, and many others as well.

Thus Oklahoma! proved to be nothing less than the beautiful morning of the golden age of the Broadway musical. And if Oklahoma! is not itself the greatest modern musical ever written—a decision for the eye and ear of the beholder—it is without doubt the immediate artistic ancestor of any conceivable claimant to that title.


Oklahoma!

Premier: March 31, 1943
Theater: St. James Theater
Music by: Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by: Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by: Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs
Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian
Choreography by: Agnes de Mille
Produced by: The Theatre Guild

  • Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'
  • The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
  • Kansas City
  • I Cain't Say No
  • People Will Say We're in Love
  • Lonely Room
  • The Farmer and the Cowman
  • Oklahoma

In the decade before “Oklahoma!” opened, not a single hit show ran over 500 performances “Oklahoma!” ran for 2,212. Even the songs, which Rodgers and Hammerstein worked so hard to keep within the context of the setting, broke out to achieve extraordinary popularity the self-defensive love song “People Will Say We’re in Love” was a number-one song in 1943 and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” and “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” also topped the charts. “Oklahoma!” was more than a hit — it was the first real phenomenon in modern Broadway history.

Selected Original Cast:
Alfred Drake (Curly McLain), Joan Roberts (Laurey Williams), Joseph Buloff (Ali Hakim), Howard Da Silva (Jud Fry), Lee Dixon (Will Parker), Betty Garde (Aunt Eller), Celeste Holm (Ado Annie Carnes)


Avenue Q

After the enormous success of "Cats", "Les Mis" and "Phantom", producers began to assume that the key to Broadway success was creating shows that were huge and that more intimate shows didn't really stand a chance. Then along came "Avenue Q", which not only won the Tony Award for Best Musical (over "Wicked", of all things), but also went on to a highly successful Broadway run, followed by an Off-Broadway transfer that is still running today. Suddenly people saw that small, smart musicals could make money, which led to the financial success of such shows as "Once", "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", and "Next to Normal".


Kyk die video: Оклахома, США По ШТАТАМ (Oktober 2021).