Hugh Jackman returns in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” in time for the landmark musical’s 70th anniversary. Jackman — who recently starred in the hit film version of “Les Miserables” — can be seen again in his breakout musical role as cowpoke Curly in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!,” Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival (check local listings).
Directed by Sir Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the acclaimed Royal National Theatre production from 1998 reveals the work’s emotional complexity with a fresh approach. The production was filmed at Shepperton Studios in London just before its move from the RNT to the West End. The special encore telecast is presented for the first time in high definition.
Josefina Gabrielle, formerly a soloist with the National Ballet of Portugal, co-stars with Jackman as the headstrong Laurey. Also featured in the cast are Maureen Lipman (“The Pianist”) as Aunt Eller, Vicki Simon as Ado Annie, Jimmy Johnston as Will Parker, and Peter Polycarpou as Ali Hakim.
The expansive, dream-like sets are by Anthony Ward, who also designed the costumes. David Hersey is lighting designer, with John Owen Edwards as musical director. The original orchestrations are by Robert Russell Bennett, with additional orchestrations by William David Brohn and new dance music arranged by David Krane.
Among “Oklahoma’s” famous songs are “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “Out of My Dreams,” “I Cain’t Say No,” “Oklahoma!,” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” perhaps Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most beloved creation.
“Oklahoma!” (1943) marked the first collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and launched what became arguably the most successful partnership in American musical theater. “Oklahoma!” was soon followed by “Carousel” (1945), “Allegro” (1947), “South Pacific” (1949), “The King and I” (1951), “Me and Juliet” (1953), “Pipe Dream” (1955), “Flower Drum Song” (1958) and “The Sound of Music” (1959). For the movies they wrote “State Fair” (1945) and for television (for Julie Andrews) they created “Cinderella” (1957), now enjoying a Broadway revival.