My friend Lauri recently suggested I come to a production of “Oklahoma!” that one of her theater companies (she’s involved with several) is putting on.
My first thought was, “Not THAT old thing,” but she convinced me that this was a totally new approach to the story. She has never steered me wrong, so I went.
In fact, this is not your Mother’s “Oklahoma!” The theater got permission from the R&H estates to mount a production that had not the big Technicolor sound we usually think of, but instead a four-piece jug band that is contemporary with the play (which is set in 1901). Using instruments such as the fiddle, upright bass, banjo, harmonium, and piano, the band really gives you a feel for the times. The pre-set is a huge Conestoga wagon that opens to become the set, the grittiness of 1901 pioneers was fully captured, and the show had a very genuine, earthly quality that served it well. The intimate feel of the theater was also perfect for the production. It was glorious.
Of course, now I have “OoooooooooOK! lahoma!” running endlessly through my head.
Friday are beer and pizza nights after the shows, so I hung out with Lauri and we talked about the show and the work she had done dramaturging it (I now know why Oklahoma is called The Sooner State). When the actor who played Judd walked by, I stopped him to tell him that he had broken my heart. He was pleased.
“I’m so glad you feel that way,” Lauri said. “I think his story is the tragedy of the show. He’s such a sad character.”
Time for bed – I have to be up tomorrow morning for glass class. Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…..