The Playbill Vault Remembers Tony Award Winner Richard Rodgers

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28 Jun 2014

Richard Rodgers, the legendary composer best known for his collaborations with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, was born on this date in 1902. The Playbill Vault looks back at his contributions to the Broadway stage.

Oklahoma! marked the first collaboration between songwriting team Rodgers and Hammerstein. The musical made its Broadway premiere March 31, 1943, at the St. James Theatre. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian and choreographed by Agnes de Mille, the cast included Alfred Drake as Curly, Joan Roberts as Laurey, Celeste Holm as Ado Annie and Howard Da Silva as Jud Fry.

The show received a glowing review from the New York Times' Lewis Nichols, who sang praises of its "fresh and infectious gayety, a charm of manner, beautiful acting, singing and dancing, and a score by Richard Rodgers which doesn't do any harm either, since it is one of his best."

Oklahoma! ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances and remained the longest-running Broadway musical in history until 1956's My Fair Lady.

Read the Oklahoma! Playbill here.

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