Oklahoma!, that 1943 Rodgers & Hammerstein masterwork which set Broadway's long-run musical mark back when a five-year run was unheard of, has remained visible over the years although not so omnipresent as the pair's The King and I and The Sound of Music. The show made brief appearances at City Center in the 1958, 1963 and 1965, with Rodgers himself producing an all-new version at the New York State Theatre (up in Lincoln Center). The first full Broadway revival came in 1979 — Rodgers died two weeks after the opening — with a London transplant the following year.
Things remained quiet until 1998, when director Trevor Nunn and choreographer Susan Stroman brought an all-new production starring Hugh Jackman to the Olivier at London's National Theatre. This was a smashing success, resulting in a commercial transfer starring Hugh Jackman at the Lyceum. Broadway plans were quashed in a dispute over the importation of the British actors, as a result of which this sure thing became something less than sure. It wasn't until 2002 that a drowsy facsimile reached local shores, with Nunn and Stroman but not starring Hugh Jackman (who had in the meantime became a movie star via "X-Men").
Watching the show at the Gershwin — with Patrick Wilson as Curly, playing opposite the Laurey and Jud from London — there were three likely explanations. Either (1) the show was vastly overpraised in London; (2) it lost a tremendous amount in the translation (and in the process of recasting and restaging, presumably by assistants rather than Nunn and Stroman); or (3) both.
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