The Oklahoma! of your dreams is on Broadway! This production has SO. MUCH. BUZZ, first stunning audiences at Bard College in 2015 and then again at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn this past Fall. People can’t stop talking about it…and for good reason.
Not a single line or note has been changed, but it’s so reimagined that you kinda can’t even really call it a revival — it’s literally unrecognizable from any Oklahoma! you’ve ever seen. This slimmed-down and gritty recreation of the classic musical is directorial vision at its finest. Actors are in close proximity to the audience in this “environmental” production, directed by Daniel Fish, and a small 7-piece band with an indie/acoustic feel supports a cast of dreamboats.
First of all, know that Broadway legend Mary Testa gives a genuis-level performance of Aunt Eller, anchoring the whole show in a way that has had Gay Twitter reeling for months now. Mary is reason alone to drop what you’re doing right now and try to get tickets to this production, but here’s a few more.
5 REASONS YOU MUST, must, must SEE OKLAHOMA!
1. Ali Stroker as Ado Annie. She was in YesBroadway’s 2017 40 Under 40 for a reason: She shines every single time she’s on a stage. Her Ado Annie provides some glorious comic relief in this generally very heavy Oklahoma! with several showstopping moments that will make your heart sing. We say YESBroadway to Ali Stroker!
2. The sexual tension between Rebecca Naomi Jones and Damon Daunno. These two are the perfect leading lady and man for this production. Rebecca Naomi Jones is one of those elusive stars that makes everyone jealous with her talent. She. Is. Stunning, delivering lines that were written in 1943 like they were written yesterday…but somehow also with the weight of the past 80 years ingrained in every single syllable? And Damon’s (also in YesBroadway’s 2017 40 Under 40) voice brings a whole new sexiness to Curly you didn’t even realize you needed. “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” indeed, ahem. There is something palpable that you can almost feel when these two onstage together. They’ll leave you breathless!
Photos: Little Fang Photo
3. There are scenes that take place in complete darkness. This is not the silly tense scenes you see in community theater productions, but instead a chance to find the darkness in your own soul while Curly and his arch enemy Jud feel each other out in a rural smokehouse where the audience can only hear them. Those scenes are haunting and dangerous, just the way musical theater should be.
4. The beginning of Act 2. Come back from intermission, where they serve chili and cornbread, ready to get seriously eff’d up. The risks that the director has to take in order to pull this off are staggering. No spoilers, but I’ll never forget the moment Gabrielle Hamilton, the featured dancer, looked into my soul during this insanely cool 15-minute Act 2 intro.
5. The theater. The production is arriving on Broadway at many people’s favorite theater: the Circle in the Square. It’s intimate, there isn’t a bad seat in the house, and the entire space lends itself perfectly to this production. While everyone should be sad that we’re losing Once On This Island, we should all rejoice that another revolutionary revival will now inhabit this space.
YOU GOTTA SEE this production that makes Oklahoma! relevant again.