Oklahoma! OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Cory Weaver
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    June 25, 2015
    Closing:
    July 19, 2015

    Theater: Fisher Center for the Performing Arts / 60 Manor Ave Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504

    Synopsis: 

    More than seven decades after its wartime premiere, director Daniel Fish ("Rocket to the Moon," SummerScape 2005) invites us to experience "Oklahoma!" in an entirely new way—a revelatory chamber production where actors and audience come together as one community, sharing food, music, and song. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration overturned the conventions of musical theater when it premiered in 1943, introducing an unprecedented depth of psychological realism to a form better known for light comic entertainment. Set in the Territory of Oklahoma in the years before statehood, this complex drama combines the sunny romance of farm girl Laurey Williams and cowboy Curly McClain with the darker story of a community rising up against a reviled outsider, Jud Fry. Like his contemporary Carlos Chávez, Richard Rodgers turned to folk sources to create a new national musical identity, in a score that includes many of his best-loved songs, including “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “Many a New Day,” and “I Cain’t Say No.”Staged in the round with audience members seated at long tables and featuring new music arrangements for a six-piece band, this intimate "Oklahoma!" offers you the chance to experience Rodgers and Hammerstein’s exuberant, complex musical as if for the first time.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Oklahoma!

    ‘Oklahoma!’ Preserves a Classic While Adding Punch

    Ben Brantley

    July 5, 2015: It’s a brash, fresh wind that’s sweepin’ down the plain of “Oklahoma!” these days, the kind that dispels mists and must. Daniel Fish’s vibrant, essential excavation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 classic — which opened Thursday at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College — asks that we listen with virgin ears to the show that changed the course of the Broadway musical. And what do we hear? Why, America singing, of course, in all its insolence and innocence, its optimism and anxiety, its gregariousness and its guardedness — America as it was, and is, and probably ever shall be. I caught the production’s second-night performance, on the eve of the Fourth of July, and it seemed as appropriate to the holiday as “The Nutcracker” does to the Christmas season. But the mood of Mr. Fisher’s ingeniously simple staging of this tale of cowboys in love and in conflict isn’t entirely celebratory, though the glittering, multicolored banners that hang over its rural town hall set might lead you to think so, not to mention the spread of jamboree-style food (chili, cornbread and lemonade) to which the audience is free to help itself. Yes, this “Oklahoma!” revels in the exhilaration of pioneers forging their identities in wide open spaces. But it also suggests — in ways that remain disarmingly subtle until it slides into sledgehammer bluntness at the end — that these good country people aren’t as frank with themselves as they think they are. And it reminds us that despite their reputations as robust sentimentalists, Rodgers and Hammerstein created deeply divided characters, with songs that shivered even as they soared.

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