Patrick Wilson, previously in negotiations to play Curly in the Broadway mounting of the lauded London Oklahoma!, will indeed play the role, and Shuler Hensley will repeat his London performance as Jud, the producer announced Aug. 16.
Performances for the Cameron Mackintosh production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic begin Feb. 23, 2002, at the Gershwin Theatre. Opening is set for March 21. Trevor Nunn recreates his direction of the Royal National Theatre staging, and Susan Stroman repeats her choreography from London.
Wilson is currently starring in The Full Monty on Broadway and was also seen in Bright Lights, Big City, Fascinating Rhythm and the national tour of Carousel. Hensley won the Olivier Award for playing grungy farmhand Jud in the 1998 RNT production. The American actor played the title role in the German staging of The Phantom of the Opera and is currently Javert in Broadway's Les Miserables.
Additional casting for Oklahoma! will be announced in the fall.
* The Gershwin Theatre, one of Broadway's larger houses, will be home to Curly, Laurey, Jud, Ado Annie, Will Parker and the other Oklahomans of the 1943 landmark musical.
Curly croons "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and "People Will Say We're in Love," among other songs in the score by lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II and composer Richard Rodgers. The innocent plot (drawn from Lynn Riggs' play, Green Grow the Lilacs) concerns farmgirl Laurey being pulled between brooding farmhand Jud and charming cowboy Curly.
The most recent Broadway revival was in 1979, under the supervision of Rodgers and directed by William Hammerstein. The new Oklahoma! opens in the centennial year of the late Rodgers' birth.
The Trevor Nunn-directed, Stroman-choreographed production originated at the Royal National Theatre and has twice tried to transfer to New York. Both times it 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. The musical was considered groundbreaking for its melding of book, score and dance. The Agnes de Mille ballet concepts that have been passed down through history were reconsidered by Stroman and the revival was praised for its streamlined musical numbers. In London, Stroman chose not the have a so-called "Dream Curly" and "Dream Laurey" — the lead actors were also the lead dancers in the dream ballet.
The musical marked the first collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The pair would work together for the next 18 years, changing the course of musical theatre history with often serious-minded works that with songs that carried the story forward and revealed character. Green Grow the Lilacs focuses on innocent, hopeful folk in the Oklahoma territory around the turn of the century, prior to statehood.