How do you celebrate the night of Yorkshire Day? Why, you go and see a production of "Oklahoma!" of course.
It was in Sheffield's beautifully restored "Lyceum" Theatre and we were just four rows from the front. The production was slick, vibrant and thoroughly entertaining and the quality of singing was tremendous. So too were the dance sections. In fact, I didn't spot a single unintended error or flaw in the entire show and the cast truly deserved their standing ovation.
|Curly with Jud at The Smoke House in last night's performance of "Oklahoma!"|
"Oklahoma!" first opened on Broadway in March, 1943 while the second world war was being waged in Europe and the western Pacific. Perhaps its "feel good" character was a deliberate antidote to war. This musical represented the very first collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It was immediately a huge box office success and seventy years later it still pulls in the crowds.
At one point in Act One, cowboy Will Parker returns from Kansas City having been mightily impressed with the place. And he sings:-
Ev'rythin's up to date in Kansas City
They've gone about as fur as they c'n go!
They went and built a skyscraper seven stories high,
About as high as a buildin' orta grow.
Ev'rythin's like a dream in Kansas City,
It's better than a magic lantern show!
Y' c'n turn the radiator on
Whenever you want some heat.
With ev'ry kind o' comfort
Ev'ry house is all complete.
You c'n walk to privies in the rain
And never wet your feet!
They've gone about as fur as they c'n go,
If only Will had known what the next seventy years would bring!
Theatre writer Thomas Hischak once wrote, "Not only is 'Oklahoma!' the most important of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, it is also the single most influential work in the American musical theatre. ... It is the first fully integrated musical play and its blending of song, character, plot and even dance would serve as the model for Broadway shows for decades."
Gene Nelson as Will Parker in the 1955 film version of "Oklahoma!"