See the Spot Where the Title Song of Oklahoma! Was Written and a Legendary Sondheim Song Was Born

News   See the Spot Where the Title Song of Oklahoma! Was Written and a Legendary Sondheim Song Was Born The Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, which opened December 20, 1900, and remains the oldest continually operating theatre in that city, has seen more than its share of theatre history.

Outside the Colonial Theatre
Outside the Colonial Theatre

 

With 1,700 seats, it is roughly the size of a big Broadway house, and has hosted pre-Broadway tryouts of many legendary hits, including Cole Porter's Anything Goes, the Gershwin brothers' Porgy and Bess, Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles, Stephen Sondheim's Follies and A Little Night Music, and Tom Kitt's High Fidelity.

Visit the theatre and pace back and forth at the back of the house, where so many Broadway greats sweated, wore out shoe leather, and came up with some of the great ideas for songs and scenes that transformed their shows into hits.

Bert Fink, a spokesman for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, shared this anecdote about the Colonial: "The show [then titled Away We Go!] arrived at the Colonial in March '43 and it was on the theatre's fabled gilt lobby grand staircase that the cast assembled to hear a new choral version of a song going into the show that week. The song was called 'Oklahoma,' and became a show-stopper at the Colonial, and a title song by the time Oklahoma! opened at the St. James on Broadway at the end of March."

The famed lobby starcase
The famed lobby starcase Photo by Kyle Hemingway Dickinson

 

The stage of the Colonial Theatre is also where Yvonne De Carlo premiered the Sondheim song "I'm Still Here" on the afternoon of March 13, 1971. The historic musical's out of town development, which is documented in Ted Chapin's "Everything Was Possible," took place at the famed theatre.

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