Director Daniel Fish’s re-imagining of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! not only places the text of the musical under a microscope, the scenic design by Laura Jellinek creates a communal environment.
Fish mounts the musical on a three-sided (thrust) stage at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre. There isn’t a bad seat in the house; but different seats offer different views and highlights. Here, we break down the advantages of four potential locations so you can purhcase the best ticket for you.
Don’t worry: No matter where you sit, there’s vegetarian chili and freshly made cornbread for everyone at intermission.
SEAT LOCATION: B 216
Situated “courtside” on the conventional Stage Left of the thrust, this side view offers the largest view of the onstage action from end to end. Most of the entrances and exits come from your left or the back wall of the theatre to your right—both of which are in full view from this spot (though you will have to turn your head tennis-match style). This often means you get to choose which character you want to pay attention to; are you more interested in watching Curly as he tries to seduce Laurey in his sensual rendition of “The Surrey With the Fringe On Top,” or watching Laurey as she reacts? From this first row of main seating, one row up from the onstage picnic tables, you’ll have the close-up view without being embedded in the action. Plus, you’ll be close to the house band.
Highlights: Sitting on the sidelines, audiences can watch Curly and Laurey’s faces during the intense “The Surrey With the Fringe On Top.” Plus, most of the action of Will’s big number “Kansas City” takes place center stage (in front of this seat) and much of it with him facing this side of the audience.
Close-up moment: Sitting on the same plane as the actors, this view of the show feels like one big close-up. But a particular highlight is after Will Parker makes his entrance. He plops down on the picnic table immediately in front of you for a good old-fashioned cat nap.
Best for: Audiences who want as close a view as they can get without interacting with the performers.
SEAT LOCATION: E 127
This row is midway down the orchestra, giving a bit more height to this view. This seat is ideal if you want to see the entire stage picture in one snapshot, with the ability to pick up on any onstage moment without head-turning. If you’re interested in Daniel Kluger’s Tony-nominated orchestrations of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein score, this offers a clear listen, as you’re positioned directly behind one half of the pit. From this angle, you will only see side-profile views of the singing performances that take place atop the podium by the band, but you get an A-plus view of Ali Stroker’s Tony-winning performance as Ado Annie during “I Cain’t Say No.”
Highlights: This vantage point may be the best in the house for the “Dream Ballet,” as Gabrielle Hamilton powerfully charges back and forth across the full length of the stage. Prepare for sensory overload trying to keep up! Sitting in this corner grants the most typical proscenium perspective of the big projection screen on the back wall for some key emotional scenes, as well as Aunt Eller’s gunshot during “The Farmer and the Cowman.”
Close-up moment: The greatest moment for this seat is the direct view of Curly and Laurey’s reaction during the bloody finale.
Best for: Those who want a more traditional view with more height and perspective and prefer to stay away from personal interaction with the actors (or the smell of cooking chili and cornbread).
SEAT LOCATION: FL 229
Situated on deck of the Circle in the Square auditorium, this seat allows for the audience to feel fully immersed in the world of Oklahoma!. This spot is a prime location to take in the entirety of production, from Mary Testa cracking eggs for cornbread at the top of the show to Tony Award winner Ali Stroker belting “I Cain’t So No.” Members of the ensemble will be seated across from you at the picnic tables, making you feel like part of the action—a tradeoff for a more dimensional view in terms of height. Situated closer to the back wall of the stage, this is also one of the straight-on views for any time the performers take to the podium by the band.
Highlights: Performers frequently interact with the banquet tables and the people seated at them, which is special; it makes the audience feel like they are a citizen in this Oklahoma community and a part of the story. Plus, nothing beats being inches away from—therefore first in line for—the production’s coveted intermission chili.
Close-up Moment: Viewers have the ideal seat for the scene between Curly and Jud in the smokehouse. Though mics and video projections are used for the full house to get “up close,” in this spot you’ll be close enough to see and hear the intimate scene without the tech. Later on, the audience in these floor seats can feel the floor shake under the intensity of Hamilton’s “Dream Ballet” performance of John Heginbotham’s kinetic choreography.
Best for: Audiences who enjoy light audience interaction and a visceral experience.
SEAT LOCATION: D 408
This section is the closest to the back wall of the house, which does serve as another entry point for the actors. Sitting here is like standing at the top of the key on a basketball court—you’ll have a perfect view of the basket, or vom, where the rest of the entrances are made. Like the floor seating, you’ll be able to navigate a straight-on view of singers taking to the podium, even though you’ll be at a slight distance.
Highlights: This seat gets a little more action from Laurey and Aunt Eller than some of the other characters, particularly at the very start of the show. If you’re a fan Testa or Rebecca Naomi Jones, specifically, this seat is for you. You’ll also have a unique view of Hamilton during the “Dream Ballet” as the back wall is integrated into her choreography.
Close-Up Moments: This seat is the closest anyone gets to the projection wall to appreciate the technology as well as the simultaneous theatricality and cinematics of the show.
Best for: Audiences who want to be able to see all of the entrances and exits and the fullest view of the stage, while still being lower down and near the action (instead of a slight bird’s eye view like E127).