I’ll be honest – before today I had very little idea of what Oklahoma! was about. The extent of my knowledge on the subject came from a Sesame Street sketch where they replaced the ‘O’ in the title song with all the other vowels. From that I figured out that there were cowboys, and farmers, and possibly – but not definitely – one of them was Forgetful Jones. Today, however, I had a chance to talk with the cast and crew of the Boardmore Playhouse’s upcoming production of Oklahoma!, and I learned a good deal about it.
For one, it’s the grand-daddy of all musicals! Well, the modern American musical, that is. One where songs are not only integrated into the story but are integral to the telling of it. According to director Bruce Cathcart, it “ushered in the golden age of American book musicals.” So, if you like American musicals, you can thank Oklahoma! I also learned that, despite having never seen the play in my life, I know a number of the songs. I recognized “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’” as soon as the first few notes were played (and I did happen to catch the whole opening number which was quite nice, I might add). The well-known songs are a draw to this play each and every time it’s performed, which is probably what helped it to become, for a time, the longest running performance on Broadway (another fact I learned today).
Now, when I think of exciting plays, and chances for big musical numbers, I don’t typically think of cowboys and farmers. Don’t get me wrong – I know plenty from both groups who sing – it’s just not the first thing that comes to mind. However, after speaking with some members of the cast, I learned that it works out quite nicely in this case.
“It’s hilarious, with some really crazy characters!” says David Hutchinson (playing Will Parker), adding, “it’s a great play to have fun with.” Beyond the characters, I learned that there is a great deal of diversity in the show: romance, drama, comedy, etc. When I asked Karen DeAdder (playing Aunt Eller) what made this a play worth seeing, she replied, “What’s not to like? Boy meets girl, boy gets girl; evil villains, it’s got it all!”
You too can learn all of this and more at the Boardmore Playhouse, March 1 – 6. Tuesday, March 1 is pay-what-you-can; Friday night is talk-back night (so you can learn even more). All shows begin at 7pm, except Sunday, March 6 which will be a 2pm matinee.
Oh, and another thing I learned – Forgetful Jones is not a featured performer in this particular production. Probably for the best. I hear he had a problem remembering lines.