On a radiant summer morning in Indian Territory not long after the turn of the century, Aunt Eller sits on her porch churning butter and looking out over her farmstead. Curly, a local ranch hand, comes to call. Curly and Eller’s niece, Laurey, have a lot in common—both are equally smitten with the other, and both are too proud and stubborn to admit it. When Curly grandly offers to take Laurey to the box social that evening, Laurey claims that he can’t escort her in style and refuses to believe that he has rented a classy rig for the occasion. Jud Fry, Laurey’s hired hand, settles the matter by announcing that he will take her to the social and because she is scared of Jud, who has a morose, vindictive temperament, Laurey is too frightened to turn him down. Curly invites Aunt Eller to ride with him.
Laurey’s friend, Ado Annie, is caught between two fellows too. Will Parker has just returned from Kansas City where he earned $50 in a rodeo—the exact sum Ado Annie’s father, Andrew Carnes, told Will he had to come up with if he wanted to marry Ado Annie. However, during Will’s absence Ado Annie has become transfixed by the Persian peddler man, Ali Hakim, whose sales pitches—whether they be for egg beaters or stolen kisses—always leaves her swooning.
Ado Annie may not know which way to turn, but her father is having no such problems: Will, since he already spent the $50 on wedding gifts for Annie and technically doesn’t have the cold cash any longer, has lost his chance at marriage—while Ali Hakim has been so forward with Annie that nothing short of a shotgun wedding will do!
At the box social that night lots of men bid for Laurey’s hamper but, as the biddings rise, so does the tension as Jud and Curly square off. Curly sells his saddle, his horse and then even his gun to raise enough cash to buy the hamper and the right to escort Laurey, which frustrates Jud. When Jud corners Laurey in the barn later on, her frightened calls for help bring Curly to her side. Jud runs off, and finally, Laurey and Curly confess their love for each other.
Ali Hakim, still trying to maneuver his way out of marrying Ado Annie, contrives to bid $50 for all the gifts Will bought in Kansas City. With cash in hand, and a few rules in mind, Will approaches Ado Annie again, and this time they set a date.
Three weeks later, Laurey and Curly are married. Gertie Cummings, an annoying flirt who couldn’t get her hands on Curly, has managed to snare a husband anyhow—Ali Hakim. Will and Ado Annie are hitched as well and everyone is celebrating. The wedding festivities pall, however, when Jud Fry stumbles in, uninvited and unwelcome. He gets into a fight with Curly and ensuing melee, the drunken Jud falls on his own knife and is killed. Curly’s friends don’t want him to have to spend his wedding night in jail and so, a trial is held on the spot and Curly is acquitted. With their friends and loved ones waving them on, Curly and Laurey drive off on their honeymoon, “in a surrey with the fringe on the top.”
Cast Size: Medium (5-21) • Large (14+). Vocal Demands: Easy • Moderate. Dance Requirements: Extensive • Some Dancing Required • Minimal. Good For: Elementary School • High School • College/University • Amateur/Community • Professional Theatre • Religious Organization.
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Merchandise for OKLAHOMA! is now available including official T-shirts, Hats, CD's, Songbook's, Tote bags and more!
Returns accepted on standard orders.
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If you want to curl up in your easy chair and revisit the lyrics and dialogue to a classic musical like OKLAHOMA or THE SOUND OF MUSIC... read more
License CAROUSEL or OKLAHOMA! and youll receive a choreography DVD with your materials featuring the legendary Agnes de Mille... read more
RHO President Ted Chapin talks about his job and the presence of Rodgers, Hammerstein and Berlin around the world. read more
This new book features more than 850 lyrics, from "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" to "Some Enchanted Evening." Edited by Amy Asch, with an Introduction by Ted Chapin, and an essay, "Random Reflections," by Alice Hammerstein Mathias... read more
Proud to represent its founders, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Concert Library is also home to orchestral works of Berlin, Kern, Weill, Porter, Lloyd Webber and others. read more
Since the songs from OKLAHOMA! provided more hits than any previous musical, the capturing of so many three minute gems in one set of four discs was exciting indeed... read more
The book for the stage version of STATE FAIR was written by Louis Mattioli and our own Tom Briggs, Director of the R&H Theatre Library, who also had the idea to adapt STATE FAIR to the stage in the first place. read more
Life upon the wicked stage, as captured in hundreds of show posters, photographs, design sketches, caricatures, set models and costumes, will be the subject of RED, HOT & BLUE! A SALUTE TO THE AMERICAN MUSICAL... read more
Casting is complete for The Theatre Guild's new stage production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's only musical written originally for the big screen: STATE FAIR... read more
Back on Broadway for the third time since its 1927 premiere, SHOW BOAT (see cover story) began making history all over again as soon as good word on its return built long lines at the box office... read more
The new Broadway production of CAROUSEL triumphed at the 1994 Tony Awards in June, winning every award it was nominated for. read more
The R&H Theatre Library is home to the major works of co-founder Oscar Hammerstein II, and his musicals continue to thrive with a record number of productions scheduled throughout the centennial year... read more
While CD remasters of great Broadway albums continue to be released in record numbers, the great art of making new cast recordings still flourishes. read more
On July 12, 1895, Oscar Greely Clendenning Hammerstein was born in New York City. On July 12, 1995, his centennial was celebrated on the stage of the highest grossing show on Broadway - his own SHOW BOAT. read more
Table of Contents
OKLAHOMA! launched a new era in the American musical. It also began the most successful songwriting partnership in Broadway history.
In 1942, Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart were at the top of their field, writing musical comedies universally praised for their wit, sophistication and innovation. A decade earlier Oscar Hammerstein II had been at the top of his field, writing operettas that consistently challenged and reshaped the art form; his SHOW BOAT, written with Jerome Kern in 1927, is considered a landmark of the American stage.
Independent of each other, both Rodgers and Hammerstein were attracted to Lynn Riggs’ folk play of life in his native Oklahoma entitled GREEN GROW THE LILACS. When Jerome Kern declined Hammerstein’s invitation to write the musical adaptation with him, and when Hart bowed out of his commitment to musicalize the work with Rodgers, it was only inevitable that the ensuing musical play would become the first work by the team of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, choreographed by a then unknown ballet choreographer named Agnes de Mille, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical version of LILACS, entitled AWAY WE GO, was given its world premiere engagement at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut in March of 1943. Only a few changes were made on the road, but they were significant. On number “Boys and Girls Like You and Me,” was cut, and a number about the land originally planned as a duet for Laurey and Curly became instead a showstopping chorale called “Oklahoma.” So successful was this number during the musical’s pre-Broadway engagement in Boston that the decision was made to add an exclamation point to the title, and make it the name of the show.
OKLAHOMA! opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway on March 31, 1943. At that time, the longest running show in Broadway history had run for three years. OKLAHOMA! surpassed that record by two more years, running for a marathon 2,212 performances. The national tour cris-crossed the United States of America for an unprecedented 10 and a half years, visiting every single state, and playing before a combined audience of more than 10 million people. In 1947, OKLAHOMA! opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, where it ran for 1,548 performances, the longest run of any show up to that time in the 267-year history of the theatre. In 1953, the Oklahoma State Legislature named “Oklahoma” the official state song. In 1955, the motion picture version of OKLAHOMA!, starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones and produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein, was released to great success. Major revivals were seen on Broadway, in London’s West End and across Australia in the early ‘80s.
To date, more than 600 production of OKLAHOMA! are licensed a year in the U.S.A and Canada alone. Productions of OKLAHOMA! have been seen throughout Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and in Berlin, Johannesburg, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Rekjavik, Tel Aviv, Budapest, Belgrade, Paris and beyond.
Stamp of Approval
Two landmark musicals of the century, OKLAHOMA! (1943) and SHOW BOAT (1927), were both written by Oscar Hammerstein II. They share an honor as well: both musicals were among the first to be commemorated by the United States Postal Service.
In March 1993, the U.S.P.S. made history when it designated OKLAHOMA! as the very first Broadway musical to be the subject of a U.S. postage stamp. Designed by Wilson McLean, the stamp was released in special ceremonies in New York and Oklahoma to coincide with the musical's March 31 50th Anniversary. (At the New York ceremony, Mary Rodgers and William Hammerstein joined Postmaster General Marvin Runyon and dozens of OKLAHOMA! cast veterans at the first-day-issue event.) Throughout 1993 the OKLAHOMA! stamp ranked among the most popular of that year's postal issues and in Oklahoma itself the stamp actually outsold the other "hot" entry that year—Elvis Presley.
In July '93 the OKLAHOMA! stamp was reissued as part of a four-stamp set honoring the Broadway musical, this time joined by SHOW BOAT, PORGY AND BESS and MY FAIR LADY (all of which were also designed by Mr. McLean). Postmaster General Runyon presided over these first-day ceremonies too, held during the 2nd annual BROADWAY ON BROADWAY concert, a spectacular event held in Times Square. Over 45,000 people attended, and special mobile postal trucks were on hand to make the first-day issues available. While BROADWAY ON BROADWAY salutes currently-running hits, that summer the stamp quartet lent historical credence to the event; opening with the OKLAHOMA! overture, the concert also included Bruce Adler (of the '79 revival of OKLAHOMA!) joining Maureen Moore to sing "All Er Nuthin,'" and Michel Bell, who the next season would earn a Tony nomination for his stirring portrayal of Joe in SHOW BOAT, here giving the New York audience a showstopping, hair-raising preview with "Ol' Man River."
January 26, 1931—The Theatre Guild presents Lynn Riggs' play GREEN GROW THE LILACS on Broadway, where it runs for 64 performances...A native of Oklahoma, Riggs drew from his childhood memories of the Indian Territory's transformation into statehood for the historical context within his play.
July 23, 1942—THE NEW YORK TIMES reports: "The Theatre Guild announced yesterday that Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II will soon begin work on a musical version of Lynn Riggs' folk-play GREEN GROW THE LILACS." Shortly thereafter lyricist Hart drops out of the project and Hammerstein takes over his duties. The resulting musical is the first in the Rodgers & Hammerstein collaboration, which goes on to yield such classics as CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I and THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
March 11-13, 1943—The new musical has its world premiere engagement at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven. Entitled AWAY WE GO!, the work is termed "a musical play" with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the play GREEN GROW THE LILACS by Lynn Riggs, with music by Richard Rodgers. Presented by The Theatre Guild, it is directed by Rouben Mamoulian, choreographed by Agnes de Mille, settings designed by Lemuel Ayers and costumes by Miles White. The company includes Alfred Drake (Curly), Joan Roberts (Laurey), Betty Garde (Aunt Eller), Lee Dixon (Will Parker) and Celeste Holm (Ado Annie).
March 15-27, 1943—AWAY WE GO! plays the Colonial Theatre, Boston, where changes are made prior to the show's Broadway premiere. One song is cut, "Boys and Girls Like You and Me." A second act choral number, originally slated as a duet for Curly and Laurey, is introduced during the wedding scene late in Act II. Entitled "Oklahoma," it stops the show.
March 31, 1943—With an exclamation point tacked on for extra flourish, the Act II showstopper becomes the musical's title song when OKLAHOMA! opens at the St. James Theatre on Broadway to rave reviews...On December 2, 1943 Decca Records releases the original Broadway cast recording of OKLAHOMA!, marking the first time a musical is recorded complete with all members of the original cast, chorus and orchestra; the album eventually earns a Gold Record and in 1976 is inducted into the NARAS (Grammy Award) Hall of Fame...On May 2, 1944 OKLAHOMA! receives a special Pulitzer Prize for Drama...On July 1, 1946, it surpasses HELLZAPOPPIN's run of 1404 performances to become the longest running musical in Broadway history...On December 4, 1947, with Richard Rodgers conducting the second act, it gives its 2000th performance on Broadway...On May 29, 1948 it closes on Broadway after a marathon 2,212 performances—a Broadway record unsurpassed until MY FAIR LADY in 1961—having been seen by more than 4 1/2 million people during the course of its five year engagement...On May 31, 1948, the Broadway company of OKLAHOMA! embarks upon a year long tour throughout the United States, visiting 67 cities.
October 15, 1943—The national tour of OKLAHOMA! opens at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven. It closes ten and a half years later at the Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia...During its decade-plus run, the touring company visits more than 250 cities encompassing every state in the Union before a total audience of 10 million...On November 26, 1946 the tour plays Oklahoma for the first time, and Governor Robert S. Kerr turns the event into a statewide celebration. Rodgers, Hammerstein, their wives and members of the musical's creative and production team attend the festivities, which include balls, parades, and culminate in eight sold-out performances of OKLAHOMA! in the Oklahoma City Municipal Auditorium...On August 31, 1953, less than five years after the musical has closed on Broadway, OKLAHOMA! returns to New York for a one week run at the New York City Center. With its arrival, OKLAHOMA! joins three other Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals already running on Broadway—SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I and ME AND JULIET—prompting Mayor Vincent R. Impelliteri to declare "Rodgers &a Hammerstein Week."
February 26, 1945—USO Camp Shows, Inc., under the supervision of Reginald and Ted Hammerstein (brother and cousin respectively to the librettist), launches a nine-month tour of OKLAHOMA! playing to the U.S. armed force stationed in the Pacific.
April 29, 1947—OKLAHOMA! opens at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, with Harold (later Howard) Keel and Betty Jane Watson in the leading roles...Before it closes on October 21, 1950, OKLAHOMA! gives 1,548 performances in London, the longest run of any show in the 267 year history of the Drury Lane
April 28, 1953—The Oklahoma State House of Representatives passes House Bill No. 1094, declaring the song "Oklahoma" by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to be "the official song and anthem of the State of Oklahoma." The Senate ratifies the bill on May 6, 1953.
June 20, 1955—ANTA "Salute to France" presents OKLAHOMA! at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris. Jack Cassidy (Curly), Shirley Jones (Laurey) and Pamela Britton (Ado Annie) star in the production, which follows its Paris engagement with performances in Rome, Naples, Milan and Venice.
August 21, 1955—Shirley Jones, Ed Sullivan, Eddie Fisher, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and the governors of New York and Oklahoma lead an "OKLAHOMA! Song-Fest" at the Central Park Mall in New York before a crowd of 15,000.
October 11, 1955—The motion picture version of OKLAHOMA! is released. Presented by Rodgers & Hammerstein and directed by Fred Zinneman, it stars Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. The film receives two Academy Awards including Best Scoring of a Musical Film and Best Sound Recording. It lives on in numerous theatrical re-releases, as well as repeated television broadcasts. A huge success on both home video and DVD, the film is given a special 50th Anniversary DVD release in 2005 when Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment releases a 2-disc edition featuring OKLAHOMA! in both its Todd-AO and CinemaScope formats.
January 10, 1968—To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the musical play OKLAHOMA! as well as the 60th anniversary of the state of Oklahoma, Governor Dewey F. Bartlett announces the formation of an honorary commission of nationally-recognized leaders in the public arts, the academic world and the business community to oversee events and commemorations pertaining to both anniversaries. Among those serving on the commission are: Ed Sullivan, Leonard Bernstein, Darryl Zanuck, Walter Cronkite, Johnny Carson, Fred Astaire, Mary Martin, Jack Benny, William Paley, Jackie Robinson, Perle Mesta, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Harry Belafonte, Art Buchwald, Maria Tallchief, Will Rogers, Jr., and Celeste Holm.
March 26, 1968—At Philharmonic (now Avery Fisher) Hall, Lincoln Center, in New York City, Skitch Henderson and Richard Rodgers conduct the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and an all-star cast in a Silver Anniversary concert version of OKLAHOMA! Staged by William Hammerstein, the evening features John Davidson (Curly), Constance Towers (Laurey), Anita Gillette (Ado Annie), Joseph Bova (Will Parker) and Margaret Hamilton (Aunt Eller).
May 1, 1979—A full-scale revival of OKLAHOMA! under the direction of William Hammerstein, begins a cross-country national tour at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. Tour sites include Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center and Oklahoma City where, at the invitation of Governor George Nigh, OKLAHOMA! is presented in honor of the state's 72nd anniversary of statehood...On December 13, 1979, with Governor Nigh in attendance, this production opens at the Palace Theatre on Broadway, where it plays until August 24, 1980 for a total of 293 performances, before going out on a post-Broadway national tour… The Broadway cast includes Laurence Guittard (Curly), Christine Andreas (Laurey), Mary Wickes (Aunt Eller), Harry Groener (Will Parker) and Christine Ebersole (Ado Annie).
September 17, 1980—While the William Hammerstein production of OKLAHOMA! continues at the Palace Theater on Broadway, a production directed by his brother James Hammerstein opens at the Palace Theatre, London, co-produced by Emile Littler and Cameron Mackintosh, starring John Diedrich as Curly, with Alfred Molina as Jud Fry. Following its London season, this OKLAHOMA! tours Australia in 1982.
October 3, 1990—Williamson Music Company, the music publishing subsidiary of Rodgers & Hammerstein, enters into an agreement with the state of Oklahoma, granting the state the right to use the song "Oklahoma" in the promotion of tourism. Waiving standard fees, Williamson Music charges the state of Oklahoma $1 (one dollar). The agreement is announced in Washington, D.C. by U.S. Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma. Joining him for the announcement are Mary Rodgers, daughter of the composer, and William Hammerstein, son of the lyricist.
March 30, 1993—The United States Postal Service issues a stamp commemorating OKLAHOMA!—the first Broadway musical to be so honored. The first day issue ceremony is held in Oklahoma City and the stamp goes on sale that day statewide.
March 31, 1993—Fifty years to the day of its Broadway premiere, OKLAHOMA! and its cast alumnae are saluted at a luncheon in New York City's Rainbow Room attended by more than three hundred guests. Eighteen members of the original company, including choreographer Agnes de Mille, conductor Jay Blackton and leads Celeste Holm and Joan Roberts, are honored, along with representatives of the Broadway company (1943-48), the National Tour (1943-54), the original London cast (1947-50), the movie (1955), the Lincoln Center revival (1967) and the Broadway revival (1979). At the luncheon United States Postmaster General Marvin T. Runyon issues the OKLAHOMA! stamp for national release. New York City Mayor David Dinkins declares the day "Rodgers & Hammerstein Day," and renames the theatre district block of 44th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue "Rodgers & Hammerstein Row."
June 6, 1993—In recognition of its 50th Anniversary, OKLAHOMA! is presented with a special Tony Award at the annual Broadway awards ceremony.
July 15, 1998—A new production of OKLAHOMA! is premiered at the Royal National Theatre, London. Directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Susan Stroman, it is an instant success with critics and the public alike; box office records are broken for four consecutive days following the opening, and less than a month into the three-month limited run, the entire engagement is sold out...During the RNT engagement, the Queen Mother Elizabeth attends OKLAHOMA! on her 98th birthday, joined by Princess Margaret and members of the Court, and is serenaded by the cast at the Finale...In January, 1999, Sir Cameron Mackintosh transfers OKLAHOMA! to the Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End for a 23-week limited season...It goes on to win a host of London theatre awards, including the Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and four Olivier Awards including Best Musical Production...In April, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attend a performance, joined by Mary Rodgers and Henry Guettel...In September, a film version of this production, directed by Trevor Nunn and Christopher Hunt, premieres on SKY-TV; it later wins an International Emmy Award…November 2003—The NT film version of OKLAHOMA! is broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances, and released on DVD by Image Entertainiment.
February 23, 2002—Previews begin at the Gershwin Theater on Broadway for the Cameron Mackintosh production of the NT staging of OKLAHOMA!, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with a cast headed by Patrick Wilson (Curly), Andrea Martin (Aunt Eller) and, repeating their London roles, Josefina Gabrielle (Laurey) and Shuler Hensley (Jud Fry)…March 21, 2002—This production premieres with a star-studded opening night with members of the audience including original Broadway cast (including Joan Roberts and Celeste Holm), Shirley Jones from the film version, and a delegation of Oklahomans lead by their Governor, Frank Keating…February 23, 2003—After a full year on Broadway, OKLAHOMA! closes to prepare for a US National Tour…December 16, 2003—The US National Tour begins in Denver, Colorado, and plays in more than two dozen American cities over the next two years.
2006-7—To commemorate the Centennial of the State of Oklahoma (which joined the Union in November of 1907), The R&H Organization joins forces with the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, for more than a year of celebrations beginning in November, 2006. For more, visit www.oklahomacentennial.com.
To Date—R&H Theatricals consistently licenses more than 600 productions of OKLAHOMA! annually in the United States and Canada alone. Worldwide, OKLAHOMA! has been translated into over a dozen languages, including French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Hebrew, Icelandic, Norwegian, Hungarian, Estonian, Dutch and Polish. English language productions have been seen in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa.
Block, Geoffrey. The Richard Rodgers Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Ewen, David. Richard Rodgers. New York: Holt, 1957.
Ewen, David. With a Song in His Heart (Richard Rodgers). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.
Fordin, Hugh. Getting To Know Him: The Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Random House, 1977; DaCapo Press, 1995.
Green, Stanley. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Story. New York: John Day, 1963; DeCapo Press (Paperback), 1980.
Green, Stanley. The Rodgers & Hammerstein Fact Book. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 1980.
Hammerstein II, Oscar. Lyrics. Introduction by the author and a Preface by Stephen Sondheim. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 1985.
Hammerstein II, Oscar. The Surrey with The Fringe on Top. Illustrated by James Warhola. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
Mordden, Ethan. Rodgers & Hammerstein. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York 1992.
Nolan, Frederick. The Sound of Their Music. New York: Walker, 1978; New York: Applause Books, 2002.
Rodgers, Richard. Musical Stages: An Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1975; New York: Jove (Paperback), 1978; New York: DaCapo, 1995; Revised Edition, DaCapo, 2002.
Taylor, Deems. Some Enchanted Evenings. New York: Harper, 1953.
Wilk, Max. O.K.!—The Story of OKLAHOMA!. New York: Grove Press, 1993; New York: Applause Books, 2002.
Emmy AwardsJanuary 01, 1999 — International Emmy Award
London Evening Standard AwardsJanuary 01, 1944 — Best Musical, London Evening Standard Award
January 01, 1998 — Best Musical, London Evening Standard Award
New York Drama League— "Best Musical of the Century"
Laurence Olivier Awards (London)January 01, 1999 — 4 Awards including Best Musical Production
Tony AwardsJanuary 01, 2002 — 1 Award for Best Actor (Featured Role—Musical), Shuler Hensley7 Nominations including Best Revival (Musical), Best Actor (Musical)
January 01, 1993 — Special Tony Award for the OKLAHOMA! 50th Anniversary
Academy AwardsJanuary 01, 1955 — 2 Awards for the Motion Picture of OKLAHOMA!Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture),Robert Russell Bennett, Jay Blackton, Adolph DeutschSound Recording, Todd-AO Sound Department, Fred Hynes, Sound Director
Vocal Range of Characters:
Written By: Richard Rodgers
Our first meeting on the project that eventually became known as OKLAHOMA! took place at my home in Connecticut. We sat under the huge oak tree and tossed ideas around. What kind of songs were we going to write? Where would they go? Who would sing them? What special texture and mood should the show have?
We had many such sessions until we became thoroughly familiar not only with every aspect of the play but with each other's outlook and approach as well. Fortunately we were in agreement on all major issues, so that when we finally did begin putting words and notes on paper—which didn't occur until we'd gone through weeks of discussions—we each were able to move ahead at a steady pace.
The first problem was, appropriately, how to open the show. We didn't want to begin with anything obvious, such as a barn dance with everyone a-whoopin and a-hollerin'. After much thought and talk we simply went to the way Lynn Riggs had opened his play, with a woman seated alone on the stage churning butter. For the lyric of the first song, Oscar developed his theme from the description that Riggs had written as an introduction to the scene:
It is a radiant summer morning several years ago, the kind of morning which, enveloping the shape of earth—men, cattle in a meadow, blades of young corn, streams—makes them seem to exist now for the first time, their images giving off a visible golden emanation that is partly true and partly a trick of imagination focusing to keep alive a loveliness that may pass away...
This was all Oscar's poetic imagination needed to produce his lines about cattle standing like statues, the corn as high as an elephant's eye, and the bright golden haze on the meadow. When I read them for the first time I could see those cattle and that corn and bright golden haze vividly. How prophetic were Oscar's words I've got a beautiful feelin'/Everything's goin' my way.
By opening the show with the woman alone onstage and the cowboy beginning his song offstage, we did more than set a mood; we were, in fact, warning the audience, 'Watch out! This is a different kind of musical.'
Written By: Bruce Pomahac, Director of Music - Rodgers & Hammerstein
Our newly available restoration of OKLAHOMA! arrives on the heels of the restorations we've already released for CAROUSEL, ALLEGRO, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, PIPE DREAM and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It took us this long to get to OKLAHOMA! for the simple reason that the performance materials for this show, Rodgers & Hammerstein's first mega-hit, always seemed to be in pretty good shape. There was a beautifully copied set of instrumental parts and a comprehensive piano/vocal score. Except for an incorrectly transposed set of Clarinet parts for Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin (something we corrected a decade ago) and some disturbingly absent Harp parts, there seemed to be little need for a restoration of the performance materials for this classic and indomitable Rodgers & Hammerstein score --Until we took a closer look.
What has existed for the performance materials for OKLAHOMA! for the last fifty years was a user friendly set of instrumental parts and a libretto that almost never elicited questions or customer concerns. The orchestra parts, which were recopied in the late nineteen sixties, and the published piano vocal score (edited by the estimable Dr. Albert Sirmay) provided a clear and competent presentation of the music. The performance libretto, based on an original stage managers script, presented (what we believed was) a precise guide to the dialogue and lyrics of the original Broadway production. But as we began to discuss OKLAHOMA! with the people who were there when it was created (first and foremost, Jay Blackton, the musical director of the original 1943 Broadway production and Gemze de Lappe, who both performed in the original production and assisted Agnes de mille in several subsequent productions) we began to encounter conundrums. Why were so many of the Harp parts missing? Why were so many of the 2nd Violin parts simply playing along with the 1st Violins? Why did the articulations between the woodwinds and the brass and the strings so often disagree? The more time we spent delving through the materials, the more questions we began to ask ourselves.
For most of the R&H cannon we are blessed to have in our archive so many of the original performance materials: early scripts, later scripts, stage managers' scripts, scenic designs, original orchestra parts - a clear documentation of a show as it moved from its out of town try out to its Broadway run and onto its first national tour. These defining documents, along with Robert Russell Bennetts (or, in the case of CAROUSEL, Don Walkers) manuscript full orchestra scores) made it possible of us to carefully pinpoint what was played and performed on the opening night on Broadway. However, OKLAHOMA! did not offer us this abundance of background sources. With our goal of creating an urtex edition, all we had to work with were a beautifully copied set of instrumental parts (provenance unknown), a libretto that had withstood the test of seven decades and Robert Russell Bennetts full orchestra scores. These provided us some, but not all, of the information we needed.
The problem with using an orchestrators full orchestra scores as a source for a definitive set of orchestral parts is that there are changes made to a show's orchestrations from the very first rehearsal in which the orchestra is involved. Cuts are made. Instrumental ensembles are thinned or enriched to make sure a particular singer may be better heard (especially in those pre-microphone days) or supported. And articulations and dynamics are constantly being altered as a show makes it way through its try-out period and on to Broadway. (Often the alterations will continue even after the show has opened on Broadway, this due to cast changes, acoustical accommodations, and refinements that the creative team begins to ask for once the show has settled into its run.) So full orchestra scores, even though they give us the orchestrators original intentions, cannot tell us what was actually being played once the show opened.
For much of the R&H catalogue we have the originally played pit parts in our archive. We can see exactly what was altered as the show moved through its tryout period and during its Broadway run. All of the changes of dynamics and tempos, the cuts and the alterations to the orchestration itself can be seen in the pencil markings written into the parts by the original and players. (These markings are not always reliable. A player may make a certain marking that in a subsequent performance is changed, and he or she may simply make the mental note and not erase what was previously scribbled on the page.)
The licensed libretto for OKLAHOMA! (as are most of the performance libretti for R&H shows) was based on a stage managers script. This would seem to be a reliable source. But it turns out that in some cases, the stage managers guide that served as a template for the licensed performance libretto was not the Broadway stage managers guide, but a guide that came from the London or other subsequent productions. Changes had been made to accommodate actors and singers as well as the scenic demands of a theatre other than the St. James Theatre in New York City, where the original production played. Luckily, we had Gemze de Lappe to come to our aid.
Gemze, who joined the original Broadway production in 1946, went on to perform in several other productions, sometimes assisting Agnes de mille and sometimes taking over the role of reproducing the entire original production (as she did for John Mauceris recent reconstruction of the original Broadway production at the North Carolina School of the Arts.) Gemze sat with us for many sessions, carefully going over each line and stage direction and giving us invaluable insight into Rouben Mamoulians (the director of the original Broadway production) and Agnes de milles (the choreographer of the original production) intentions. Dialogue that, over the years, had lazily departed from Hammersteins original script and comic bits that had been excised in later productions were all put back in place. Gemze also expanded the choreographic and character detailing. The purpose for this was not to confine future productions to a straight jacket of the original production but to emphasize the attention to detail that was paid in the first production and to encourage this kind of careful attention in any and all future productions of OKLAHOMA!
The restoration of the musical score was trickier. Rodgers and Bennett have been gone for years. Trude Rittmann, who had functioned as musical arranger for almost all of the R&H shows from CAROUSEL on, had not yet become a part of the R&H team when OKLAHOMA! was being created. (She did, however, participate in the 1955 film adaptation.) All we had to go on were the copied set of instrumental parts that have been licensed since the nineteen sixties, the published piano/vocal score and Robert Russell Bennetts full orchestra scores. Whereas most of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals in our archive include original pit parts, sketches and miscellaneous musical materials, we had none of this for OKLAHOMA! It seems that, once the orchestra parts had been recopied in the nineteen sixties, everything else (except the published piano/vocal score) was abandoned. Probably these earlier materials were deemed no longer necessary and were tossed. What we ended up with were a single set of orchestra parts that, the longer we studied them, brought us more questions than they did answers, and Robert Russell Bennett's orchestra scores, which gave us some of, but not enough of the answers we needed.
The piano/vocal score was in pretty good shape. In Dr. Albert Sirmays style it was written not so much to reflect the orchestral arrangements of the original production but to be playable by most any pianist who had $6.00 (Yes, $6.00!) to purchase the complete piano/vocal score. Sirmay was always careful to include the melody in the right hand of the piano part, even when this did not reflect what the orchestra was actually playing. Therefore, even though the published piano/vocal score provides the reader with a lovely tour though Rodgers melodic and harmonically thrilling musical score, it doesnt tell us much about what was actually going on in the orchestral accompaniment.
In the new piano conductor score (masterfully prepared by Wayne Blood, R&H's Manager of Musical Preparation, for this restoration) you will find that a good deal of the piano part has been rethought. But it provides the conductor and the rehearsal pianist with information that is absolutely true to the orchestration. There is not a dedicated piano part in the orchestration of OKLAHOMA!, but this new piano conductor score will not get in the way of the orchestration should you feel the need to add a pianist to your OKLAHOMA! orchestra.
Restoring the orchestra parts of OKLAHOMA! was a revelation. First and foremost, the articulations and dynamics in the earlier licensed material were at odds with each other in almost every song. Take, for instance, the triplet of notes that Rodgers wrote to accompany the words Many a new in Many a New Day. When we looked at the instrumental parts that have been available for the last seventy years we could see that none of the articulations were consistent. In some parts each of the three notes were marked with staccato markings. In other parts these three notes were covered with a slur (a smooth connection of the three notes that does not separate them.) And in yet other parts these notes were covered with staccato markings AND a slur. We were lucky enough to deduce early on that the 1st Violin part was carefully edited from first measure to last, and we used this, as well as a preponderance of other information, to make the decision to go to with the slur. What stumped us is that Robert Russell Bennett made no articulate provision for these three notes in his manuscript full scores. So, even though we made a specific decision, based on the best and the most information that was available to us, we leave it to you, in your production, to make the call on how this triplet should be played. Yes, you can listen to the 1943 original cast recording and to the 1955 motion picture recording, but the conundrum remains. Sometimes, its just a matter of personal taste.
Robert Russell Bennetts original Broadway orchestration for OKLAHOMA! called for an orchestra of twenty eight players: four woodwinds, five brass, a harp, a guitarist (doubling banjo), a percussionist (playing a trap set, an oriental drum [tom-tom], timpani, bells, xylophone, vibraphone, chimes wood blocks and temple blocks) and ten (yes, TEN!) violins, two violas, two cellos and two basses (cut back to one bass as the original Broadway production ran its incredible 2,212 performances.)
In 1969, Rodgers asked Bennett to increase the size of the orchestration for an upcoming revival of OKLAHOMA! at New Yorks State Theatre in Lincoln Center. Bennett could allow for increasing of the string section without having to rewrite the string parts. (He always had in mind a much larger string section than the pits of most Broadway theatres could provide and devised his string voicings accordingly.) But he wrote a new three line partitur for the complete score of OKLAHOMA!, adding a Bassoon, a 3rd Trumpet and a 2nd Trombone. It seems the Bassoon part was soon added to the standard issue for the woodwind section, but the 3rd Trumpet and 2nd Trombone have been unavailable until this new restoration.
Bennetts original woodwind section for OKLAHOMA! consisted of four players: 1 Flute (doubling Piccolo the Piccolo only playing in The Farmer and the Cowman), 1 Oboe (doubling English Horn, Bass Oboe and Oboe DAmore), Clarinet I and Clarinet II (doubling Bass Clarinet.) In the wake of the Lincoln Center production the Bassoon (now the 5th woodwind) was added to the original instrumentation, and the Bass Oboe, Oboe DAmore and Bass Clarinet doubles were removed from the orchestration. In our restoration of OKLAHOMA! we are offering both options.
If you choose to perform the four player woodwind version of the orchestration as it was first conceived it has been restored to its original format. However, we have double lined the Bass Oboe and Oboe DAmore parts to be played by English Horn should these harder to find instrumental doubles prove hard to come by. The (optional) Bassoon part may or may not be needed, depending on how you are choosing to cover the original four woodwind configuration.
Along with the (optional) Bassoon part we are also offering the (optional) 3rd Trumpet and (optional) 2nd Trombone part in our new restoration. All three of these options are included in the full orchestra score (partitur) for OKLAHOMA!, which is now for the first time available for rental.
We next discovered 2nd Violin parts that were merely playing along with the 1st Violins. It's hard to believe that for the past half century "People Will Say We're In Love" has been performed without the 2nd Violin part and no one seemed to notice. (I promise you that you will notice its return.)
And (a Eureka! moment) all of those missing Harp parts were discovered in Bennett's full scores! What he gave the harpist to do in "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" will confirm for anyone who reads it Bernnett's genius in setting not only music but lyrics, as well as his ability to provide emotional resonance.
Our new restoration of OKLAHOMA! includes, along with the newly edited libretto and vocal parts (our libretto/vocal combine), an updated piano/conductor score, and (for the first time) a full orchestra score (partitur) as well as the following orchestral parts:
1 FLUTE (doubling PICCOLO)
1 OBOE (doubling ENGLISH HORN, BASS OBOE and OBOE DAMORE)[BASS OBOE and OBOE DAMORE are double lined for ENGLISH HORN.]1 CLARINET I1 CLARINET II (Doubling BASS CLARINET)
1 BASSOON (Optional)
1 HORN I
1 HORN III TRUMPET I
1 TRUMPET II
1 TRUMPET III (Optional)
1 TROMBONE I
1 TROMBONE II (Optional)
GUITAR (Doubling BANJO)
PERCUSSION Breakdown: Trap Set (Snare Drum, Tom Toms, Bass Drum, Hi-Hat and Suspended Cymbal), Oriental Drum (deep), 3 Timpani (25-26, 28-29, 32) Orchestra Bells, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Chimes (B Flat, E Flat), Wood Block, Temple Blocks, Pop (Cork Gun or similar, Slapstick (Whip), Cowbell and (optional) Tambourine
VIOLINS A (Six players)
VIOLINS B (Four players)
VIOLAS (2 players)
CELLOS (2 players)
BASS (1 or 2 players)
No need to worry if you haven't got those ten violins. Bennett always wrote his larger orchestrations with a dictum he called "Fifteen and Drums". What he meant by this was that no matter the size of the instrumentation allbases could be covered satisfactorially with five reeds (flute, oboe, two clarinets and bassoon), five brass (two horns, two trumpets and trombone), five strings (two violins, a viola, a cello and a bass) and rhythm. In thecase of OKLAHOMA! this being percussion, harp and guitar.
Need I add that the score of OKLAHOMA! is one of the great (greatest!) joys of the musical theatre, whether accompanied by a full orchestra, a solo piano, our two piano arrangement or with Realtime Music Solutions, oursynth option allowing you to create a full orchestral sound no matter how few instruments are available to you. Please feel free to check in with us with any further questions you might have.
We're looking forwardto hearing form you.
Director of Music
Rodgers & Hammerstein
ARTWORK: This show now has new iconic artwork, bringing the professional look of Broadway straight to your theater. Show posters, print ads, Facebook graphics, and marketing materials are all available in customizable formats.
InstrumentalEase: This product is an orchestra enhancement instrument capable of augmenting a traditional ensemble of any size. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information: www.rms.biz, via email: email@example.com, or via phone: 212-620-0774.
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- Bandstration Books (21 Books)
- 1 – Piano Conductor Score, Bandstration
- 1 – FLUTE I-II (Both Doubling Piccolo with Opt Flute III)
- 1 – OBOE
- 1 – CLARINET I
- 1 – CLARINET II
- 1 – CLARINET III
- 1 – ALTO CLARINET
- 1 – BASS CLARINET
- 1 – BASSOON
- 1 – ALTO SAX I-II
- 1 – TENOR SAX
- 1 – BARITONE SAX
- 1 – TRUMPET I
- 1 – TRUMPET II-III
- 1 – HORN I-II
- 1 – TROMBONE I-II
- 1 – TROMBONE III
- 1 – BARITONE HORN
- 1 – TUBA (Optional Divisi for two players)
- 2 – PERCUSSION
- Rehearsal Set Bandstration (22 Books, 1 Logo CD, 1 Dance DVD)
- 20 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- 1 – Logo CD
- 1 – Dance DVD
- 2 – Piano Conductor Score, Bandstration
- OKLAHOMA! - Orchestration Package (21 Books)
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- 1 – FLUTE (Doubling Piccolo)
- 1 – Oboe (Doubling english Horn, Bass Oboe and Oboe d'amore)
- 1 – Bassoon (Optional)
- 1 – PERCUSSION
- 1 – VIOLA (Divisi)
- 1 – CELLO
- 1 – BASS
- 1 – GUITAR (Doubling Banjo)
- 1 – HARP
- 1 – Clarinet I
- 1 – Clarinet II (Doubling Bass Clarinet)
- 1 – French Horn 1
- 1 – French Horn 2
- 1 – Trumpet I
- 1 – Trumpet II
- 1 – Trumpet III
- 1 – Trombone I
- 1 – Trombone II
- 1 – Violin I (Divisi)
- 1 – Violin II (Divisi)
- Rehearsal Set (22 Books, 1 Dance DVD)
- 20 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- 1 – Dance DVD
- 1 – Digital Logo
- 2 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- OKLAHOMA! -Two Piano Arrangement (2 Act I, 2 Act II)
- 2 – TWO PIANO ARRANGMENT - Act I
- 2 – TWO PIANO ARRANGMENT - Act II
- OKLAHOMA! Full Score (3 books)
- 1 – Full Score, Act I, Part I
- 1 – Full Score, Act II
- 1 – Full Score Act 1, Part II
- Bandstration Libretto-Vocal Book 10-Pack
- 10 – Bandstration Libretto-Vocal Book
- OKLAHOMA! Bandstration - Pre-Production Pack
- 1 – Piano Conductor Score, Bandstration
- 1 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pack
- 10 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- OKLAHOMA! - Pre-Production Package
- 1 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- Oklahoma Flat Bundle
- 1 – Flat Facebook Tabs
- 1 – Flat Poster
- 1 – Flat Print
- 1 – Flat Headers
- 1 – Flat Banners
- Oklahoma Layered Bundle
- 1 – Layered Headers
- 1 – Layered Facebook Tabs
- 1 – Layered Poster
- 1 – Layered Print
- 1 – Layered Facebook Tabs
- 1 – Layered Banners
Large singing-dancing ensemble with numerous small roles
Ado Annie Carnes
OKLAHOMA! takes place in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) just after the turn of the century.
The Front of Laurey's Farmhouse
The Smoke House
A Grove on Laurey's Farm
The Skidmore Ranch
Skidmore's Kitchen Porch
The Back of Laurey's Farmhouse
DIVISI NOTE: In the original Broadway pit of OKLAHOMA!, there were 6 players on Violin A, 4 players on Violin B, 2 Violists, 2 Cellists, and 2 Bass players.
BASSOON NOTE: The Bassoon was not used in the original Broadway pit, but was added later for the Lincoln Center Revival.
Arena Stage's acclaimed and record-breaking production of OKLAHOMA!took home top prizes at the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington DC on Monday night.Read More
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