PBS To Air Hugh Jackman Oklahoma! in November

By Andrew Gans
and Robert Simonson
08 Oct 2003

Hugh Jackman and Maureen Lipman in Nunn's Oklahoma!.
Hugh Jackman and Maureen Lipman in Nunn's Oklahoma!.

Hugh Jackman, who is currently portraying the late Peter Allen in the new Broadway musical The Boy From Oz, stars in the upcoming PBS "Great Performances" presentation of Oklahoma!

Jackman stars as Curly in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which was filmed during his run in the musical in London. Directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the Royal National Theatre production of Oklahoma! won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical as well as the Best Musical Evening Standard and Critics Circle awards. The West End cast also included Maureen Lipman as Aunt Eller, Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey and Shuler Hensley as Jud Fry. Gabrielle and Hensley repeated their roles on Broadway with Hensley winning a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. That production cast The Full Monty's Patrick Wilson in Jackman's role with Andrea Martin as Aunt Eller.

Oklahoma! will begin airing on PBS stations around the country Nov. 22. In the metropolitan area, WNET/Thirteen will broadcast the landmark musical Nov. 22 at 7 with an encore presentation at 11 PM. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! score includes "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey with the Fringe On Top," "I Cain't Say No," "People Will Say We're in Love" and "Oklahoma."

Oklahoma! was one of the first of many splashy revivals of classic American musicals that Nunn produced as the artistic director of the National Theatre. The mounting was praised as a fresh rethinking of a show which had over the years become a museum piece. The interpretation's most startling shift with the past involved Susan Stroman's choreography. Stroman was hired with the understanding that she would redesign the famed Act One ballet sequence from the ground up, eschewing Agnes DeMille's famous footwork. 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.

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A DVD of the Jackman Oklahoma! will be released Nov. 18 by Imagine Entertainment. The title has also been expanded to a two-disc set. The first disc will feature a widescreen format and the second disc includes a "Making of" feature.