She's a woman with a butter churn and a rifle, and she knows how to use 'em.
Tony Award-winning comic actress Andrea Martin (My Favorite Year) has been cast as Aunt Eller in the American staging of Trevor Nunn's Royal National Theatre production of Oklahoma!, it was announced Jan. 3.
Previews for the lauded revival, choreographed by Susan Stroman, begin Feb. 23 at the Gershwin Theatre. Opening is set for March 21. Cameron Mackintosh produces. Martin (Hal Prince's Candide, "SCTV") joins Patrick (The Full Monty) Wilson (Curly), Josefina Gabrielle (recreating her London Laurey), Schuler Hensley (reprising his Olivier Award-winning turn as Jud).
Traditionally in the groundbreaking 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, the first person seen on stage, on the front porch of an Oklahoma-territory farmhouse, is the salty and lovable Aunt Eller, churning butter. She stops the show with a rifle in Act Two.
The production's other principals were also announced: Jessica Boevers, Philia in the most recent Broadway Forum revival, as Ado Annie Carnes; Justin Bohon, a Miss Saigon vet, as Will Parker; Aasif Mandvi, Obie Award-winner for his solo show, Sakina's Restaurant, as "Persian" peddler Ali Hakim; Michael McCarty, with Sweeney Todd and Big River to his credit, as Andrew Carnes; Ronn Carroll, of Steel Pier and Annie Get Your Gun, as Ike Skidmore. Josefina Gabrielle is appearing in Oklahoma! with the permission of Actors’ Equity Association pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and British Equity. In Stroman and Nunn's conception, the actors dance in the show's dream ballets, a break with the tradition of when a "Dream Laurey" and "Dream Curly" would be cast.