The principal cast of artistic director Molly Smith's staging reunites for an encore run through Oct. 2. The Rodgers & Hammerstein classic about optimistic folk in American Indian territory just before statehood got positive reviews (and broke all box-office records from Arena Stage's 60-year history). The groundbreaking musical is based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs, and has music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Smith's incarnation blends a multicultural cast to tell the story of two romances — Laurey and Curly (threatened by Jud Fry), and Will and Ado Annie (threatened by Ali Hakim).
The production earned ten 2011 Helen Hayes Award nominations in the resident division, and won for Choreography (Parker Esse), Lead Actor (Nicholas Rodriguez as Curly), Musical Direction (George Fulginiti-Shakar) and Outstanding Resident Musical (tying with Shakespeare Theatre's Candide).
The return of the revival on the in-the-round Fichandler Stage features the entire original principal cast and most of the ensemble. Performances are already selling out.
Nicholas Rodriguez (Broadway’s Tarzan, Arena's The Light in the Piazza) returns as Curly along with Eleasha Gamble (Arena Stage's The Women of Brewster Place, Signature's Chess) as Laurey, plus E. Faye Butler (Arena Stage's Crowns, Ain't Misbehavin') as Aunt Eller; Aaron Ramey (Broadway's Curtains, Thoroughly Modern Millie) as Jud Fry; Cody Williams as Will Parker; June Schreiner as Ado Annie; and Nehal Joshi (Broadway's Les Misérables) as peddler Ali Hakim.
The cast also includes Emilee Dupré (Vivian), Lucas Fedele (Ike Skidmore), Andrew Hodge (Slim), Cara Massey (Gertie Cummings), Hugh Nees (Andrew Carnes), Cyana Paolantonio (Ellen), Annie Petersmeyer (Virginia), Kristyn Pope (Aggie), Alvon Reed (Jess), Shane Rhoades (Fred), Vincent Rodriguez III (Sam), Kyle Vaughn (Mike/Dream Curly), Hollie E. Wright (Sylvie/Dream Laurey), Jessica Wu (Kate), Jessica Hartman (Female Swing) and Aaron Umsted (Male Swing). In addition to the previously named members of the creative team, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! is crafted by set designer Eugene Lee; costume designer Martin Pakledinaz; lighting designer Michael Gilliam; sound designer Timothy M. Thompson; fight choreographer David Leong; dramaturg Janine Sobeck; associate director Anita Maynard-Losh; assistant choreographer Ashley Yeater; assistant musical director José Simbulan; Arena Stage casting director Daniel Pruksarnukul; New York casting directors Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter and Paul Hardt; stage managers Susan R. White and Jenna Henderson; and assistant stage manager Taryn Friend.
The score includes "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Many a New Day," "Kansas City" and the title song. The 1943 show famously solidified the then-long-brewing notion of integrating book, music, lyrics, dance and design in service of a psychologically sound "musical play" rather than sketch-like "musical comedy."
For tickets and information, visit www.arenastage.org.
View highlights from the show: