Oklahoma! OK'd: Stroman, Nunn Begin U.S. Casting in June; Fall Start Likely

By Murdoch McBride
17 May 2000

Cameron Mackintosh's long awaited Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein' s Oklahoma! will be coming to New York this fall, Playbill On-Line has learned.

Cameron Mackintosh's long awaited Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein' s Oklahoma! will be coming to New York this fall, Playbill On-Line has learned.

"Hopefully it will come in this fall, in November," said choreographer Susan Stroman. "But, we're not quite sure of the theatre yet...any of the big ones would be fine. It's a big production and a big company." Stroman spoke with Playbill On-Line at the annual Tony Awards brunch at Sardi's on May 17.

Set in the turn of the century American West, Oklahoma! tells the story of young Laurey and the two rivals for her affections: Curly, a cowboy, and Jud, the hired farmhand. The classic score includes "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," and "People Will Say We're in Love" as well as the title song.

Directed by Trevor Nunn and produced by Cameron Mackintosh at the Royal National Theatre in London's West End, Oklahoma was a successful revival there last year. But hopes of a Broadway run featuring the original London cast were dashed when Actors' Equity held firm and enforced rules that prohibit the importing of talent except in certain special circumstances. As it turns out, the Broadway run will feature an all American cast.

"We're actually starting auditions next month with the hopes that a theatre will open up," Stroman told Playbill On-Line. No cast members will be brought over from the original London show, Stroman explained.

"Right now we're only auditioning Americans," Stroman said. She said that the American production would be cast entirely in New York, "from the top down." Stroman said that rehearsals for the show would hopefully start "in October or November."

Director Trevor Nunn will also be on hand, Stroman said. "Trevor will be here," Stroman said. "He's going to take time off from his job at the Royal National Theatre and come here for seven weeks to remount, so we'll be together again, which will be wonderful."

As for the production team, Stroman said they would "all be the same from the Royal National Theatre on the West End. That whole group is coming over."

Director Trevor Nunn's creative team in London included set and costume designer Anthony Ward, lighting designer David Hersey, sound designer Paul Groothuis (sound) and musical director John Owen Edwards. Original orchestrations were by Robert Russell Bennett with additional orchestrations by William David Brohn and new dance music arranged by David Krane.

As reported earlier, the West End production of the show opened Jan. 21, 1999 and ran through Oct. 3, breaking box-office records and later selling out.

The London cast included Maureen Lipman as Aunt Eller, Hugh Jackman as Curly, Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey, Vick’mon as Ado Annie, Peter Polycarpou as Ali Hakim and Jimmy Johnston as Will Parker. They were joined by Helen Anker, Julie Barnes, Luke Baxter, Sarah Bayliss, Leigh Constantine, Marilyn Cutts, Amanda C Davies, Zoe Dawson, Susie Drumbreck, Tom Dwyer, Howard Ellis, Elizabeth Gee, Sam Henson, Sarah Ingram, Nicola Keen, Sidney Livingstone, Fergus Logan, David Lucan, Helen Missing, David Shelmerdine, Rebecca Thornhill and Kevin Wainwright.

Oklahoma! is based on the Lynn Riggs' play Green Grow the Lilacs, which appeared on Broadway in 1931. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, originally called Away We Go!, premiered at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in 1943, and later at the Colonial Theatre in Boston where the play was developed before its Broadway run. Renamed Oklahoma!, the play opened on Broadway at the St. James in 1943 and ran for almost five years, setting records with its 2,212 performances.