The upcoming Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! has joined the Gun Neutral Initiative, a new effort by entertainment companies to find ways to help bring an end to gun violence.
Oklahoma!'s participation—the first from a Broadway musical—includes a donation made to Gun Neutral's non-profit 501c3, which will primarily go toward organizations working to destroy firearms that should be out of circulation. The donated funds will also benefit organizations providing arts and STEM programs to kids in underserved areas impacted by chronic gun violence.
Gun Neutral, launched October last year, attempts to preserve storytellers' artistic freedom while raising awareness and promoting social responsibility. The non-partisan initiative will also track the effects of their efforts with data from institutions such as the Annenberg Public Policy Center so that the industry can more clearly understand the consequences of their creative choices.
"Just because a particular story calls for the presence of a particular weapon, that doesn't mean that we have to remain complacent in America's gun violence epidemic," shared producer Eva Price while announcing Oklahoma!'s participation in the initiative at a Sundance Film Festival event in Park City, Utah. "Helping to destroy firearms that shouldn't be in circulation is both a privilege and a responsibility."
Oklahoma!, begins performances at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre March 19 ahead of a scheduled opening April 7. The Broadway transfer follows successful runs at Bard College in 2015 and a sold-out run at Off-Broadway's St. Ann's Warehouse last fall. Helmed by Daniel Fish, the new production has been given a contemporary re-imagination, including new orchestrations by Daniel Kluger. The creative team includes John Heginbotham (choreography), Laura Jellinek (scenic design), Terese Wadden (costume design), Scott Zielinski (lighting design), Drew Levy (sound design), Joshua Thorson (projection design), and Nathan Koci (music direction). Casting for the Broadway engagement has not yet been announced.
The first collaboration between the Broadway golden age powerhouse duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma! was adapted from Lynn Riggs' play Green Grow the Lilacs, and was originally choreographed by Agnes de Mille. The original production, which premiered on Broadway in 1943, is largely credited with being the first musical to fully integrate its book, score, and choreography towards advancing the plot.