Audiences attending the new Broadway revival of Oklahoma! may not recognize their surroundings. The Gershwin, Broadway's largest theatre in terms of seating capacity, has been steamlined.
To accommodate a thrust stage specifically installed for the new revival, the first five rows of the orchestra were ripped out. Additional seats were lost at the back of the auditorium with the construction of a new wall. In total, the Gershwin's seat count was reduced from 1,933 to 1,670.
"The Gershwin is as intimate as it has ever been," said a spokesman for the show.
It took a few years to get here, but on Feb. 23, the praised Trevor Nunn Susan Stroman Royal National Theatre production of Oklahoma! will have it first performance on Broadway, at a renovated and streamlined Gershwin Theatre. Patrick Wilson and Andrea Martin head the cast as Curly and Aunt Eller. Joining them are Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey, and Schuler Hensley as Jud. The latter two recreate the roles they played in London, first at the Royal National Theatre and then on the West End.
Previews will continue until a March 21 opening.
The production's other principals are: 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.
The production originated at the Royal National Theatre in 1998 and twice tried to transfer to New York before finally succeeding. The earlier efforts failed, variously, because of Equity complaints over the all British cast and Nunn and Stroman's tight schedules.
The RNT staging broke all box office records at the theatre and transferred to the West End's Lyceum Theatre for a limited engagement. The staging received four Olivier Awards, including Outstanding Musical Production.