Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical is boldly re-imagined by director Daniel Fish at St Ann's Warehouse. More…
With no chorus, a seven-piece band, a theater repurposed as a community social hall, and chili shared by the audience and actors at intermission, this intimate production strives to illuminate the musical form’s essentials to better expose the show’s emotional range and layered characters.
“Fish delivers a glorious and terrifying production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking 1943 musical ‘Oklahoma!’...Completely deconstructing this canonical and totemic masterpiece of American musical theatre by stripping it of its corn and highlighting the darker themes of violence and injustice that have always been simmering underneath. Sexually charged and presented with a striking naturalism, this masterful new production is a revelation.” Full Review
"If you strip away the jaw dropping, 'holy cow' moments from the new production of 'Oklahoma!' at St. Ann’s Warehouse, what you’re left with is an utterly delightful, sincere and powerfully contemporary version of the 1943 Rodgers & Hammerstein classic...As it should be in 'Oklahoma!' the acting, singing and dancing are the dominant hallmarks of this production, all of which are mesmerizing." Full Review
"Fearless, provocative and totally unconventional...Rodgers’ score is full of folk music influences, but in these new, crisp orchestrations by Daniel Kluger, favorite Broadway melodies sound as if composed anew, strummed by bluegrass legends...But it’s in the romantic ballads where the steely musical adaptations reveal a rawness and sexuality unexplored before...The cast is uniformly excellent." Full Review
"The production is all the more remarkable considering the fact that it's a revival of the alpha and omega of the musical stage, for crying out loud...This revival still gives credit where credit is due, while simultaneously zeroing in on aspects of the American experiment that have dimmed of their bright golden haze and begun to curl around the edges...It helps that the cast is so stunningly good." Full Review
"Brantley: 'What’s so thrilling about this exposure of what lies beneath is that you feel it was always there, waiting to be excavated'...Green: 'This has always been a very American story, of course, but has never felt like so much of one until now...Mostly Mr. Fish is audacious in ways that feel dead-on and delightful'...Brantley: 'The casting is spot-on and often illuminating...Green: ''Oklahoma!' is a rollicking good time: The jokes have never been funnier, the merry songs merrier.'" Full Review
"Without sacrificing the show’s humor or the beauty of its music, Fish and his company have created a charged, scary production, a story about the aggressions and ambiguities entwined deep in the root system of America...One of Fish’s vital interpretive strokes is to emphasize both Curly’s cruel streak and Laurey’s ambivalence, drawing out her emotional struggle as the heart of the play." Full Review
"That darkness is not just confined to one scene, but is spiritually draped over Daniel Fish’s daring, brilliant, utterly absorbing re-interpretation...This version of 'Oklahoma!' interrogates themes of gender, class, desire, crime, and punishment. It does this seriously and with fun, and with an overall smart snappiness in its tone and characters...The production is played, extremely skillfully, for laughs and the very opposite of laughs." Full Review
"In Fish’s reimagining, the show...seethes with darker and visceral currents, currents that deal with sexuality and politics...There are times when director Fish perhaps overdoes his credentials as a conceptualist...For the most part, Fish’s approach while risky, daring and sometimes just showy, doesn’t violate the basic appeal of this wonderful piece, and if it means endowing it with updated relevance for present and future generations, so be it." Full Review
"In his startling, minimalist reimagining of 'Oklahoma!,' director Daniel Fish foregrounds the carnality and violence that has always formed part of this classic musical. It’s a thrilling jolt. Fish’s production examines the ugliness of an American community, a timely indictment of American 'justice' and a bracing reminder of the power of art to reflect society...New musical arrangements complement these fresh angles on familiar material." Full Review
“Fish and company bring a bright clarity and an aching desire to this classic American musical...The one-liners crackled with fresh wit and the darkness at the musical’s core was allowed its full expression. Nothing was forced or imposed...The cast and musicians breathe fresh life into the characters and tunes, while the production’s darker notes and sharp barbs do not impose on the romance and joyful comedy, but rather reveal themselves to have been there, under the surface, all along.” Full Review
“A powerful revival...Some comedy remains but even that has an edge of danger...While it looks and sounds very different...the production doesn’t fight with the text. Fish’s vision treats Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical with deep respect, shining a hard light on its underlying issues of justice, violence, and the autonomy of women. It ventures into rough territory and leaves the show in a brand-new state.” Full Review
"The world Fish and his designers create is stark but not uninviting...It’s an 'Oklahoma!' that sounds lovely and earns its laughs and heartache honestly, even if tempi slow to a crawl...Fish gives us more. He gets between the lines, finds the gray areas of ambiguity and fear that complicate the aw-shucks rom-com...Sexy, suspenseful and with a fresh, exuberant sound, this is an 'Oklahoma!' to hoot and cheer and stomp your boots at." Full Review
"By the musical's highly dramatic end, one realizes director Daniel Fish has put every moment of this show under a newly cleaned, pristine microscope - even if his judgment is occasionally somewhat clouded - and when appropriate, reformulated its DNA." Full Review
“A radical reworking of Rodgers & Hammerstein...Fish is deconstructing the work down to its bones, bringing out flavor notes in the text that we've, in the past, willfully chosen to ignore...Fish has emphasized the aspects of the piece that speak to 2018...What makes this production so fascinating is the way we recognize those more incendiary elements as if for the first time...Not all the elements here work...Ultimately, though, Fish's excavation of ‘Oklahoma!’ is essential viewing.” Full Review
"Fish’s integrated, intimate, immersive staging of one of the landmark pieces of American musical theater transforms Rodgers and Hammerstein’s sunbeams-and-cornpone vision of America into art as dark as the oil-soaked soil of the state itself. Though not much has been changed from the original script, the show feels absolutely new, completely modern...Definitely not your mother’s 'Oklahoma!' No; it’s better. Open your mind and go with the richly rewarding experience." Full Review
"There’s much to enjoy about this often-understated presentation—all that sitting and bantering...Turning it into a partial ensemble number has its virtues. And from start to finish the 12 cast members sing their hearts out on a score that reminds us what a superb score sounds like...There’s something to be said for acknowledging the more dangerous contemporary Trumpian climate...It’s indisputably an 'Oklahoma!' of our times, and in this instance that rates as a fair-enough positive." Full Review
"Fish’s stripped-down, rough-edged revamp...The mood is relaxed and casual. There is little separation between the audience and the actors...Distinguishing Fish’s production is a pervading ominous tone. Although Fish does not appear to have altered the lyrics or dialogue, he has radically remade 'Oklahoma!'...For the most part, this proves to be an intriguing and compelling interpretation...A far from definitive but refreshing 'Oklahoma!'" Full Review
"The director’s most severe changes, four of them, neither help nor enhance what R&H wrought. They don’t sink the experiment, fortunately; this 'Oklahoma!' is altogether something to see...But what use are changes that alter the meaning of the show without improving the work? Most puzzling is the handling of the famous dream ballet...For the most part, Daniel Fish’s 'Oklahoma!' is a grand success and well worth visiting." Full Review
"Fish has stripped down Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 classic to its barest, rawest elements...Fish’s biggest innovation is to pull back the set pieces and put the turn-of-the-20th-century characters — and their many contradictions — center stage...As with many a reimagining of a classic, not all of Fish’s gambits entirely work. His most radical departure from Oscar Hammerstein’s script comes in the finale...The scene is a transfixing coup de theatre, but it doesn’t feel earned." Full Review
"If this 'Oklahoma!' roils with disruptive emotions and suggestions of brutality, most of the time everyone involved seems to be taking Rodgers and Hammerstein at their word, highlighting the darkness in the script and score. The production features two moments of possible overreach...In addition, a number of things don't quite work...Still, this is a starkly original exercise that is well worth your attention -- often musically beguiling, rife with tension, and loaded with laughter." Full Review
"Fish sees his version as cutting-edge, and wants us to see it that way too...Fish clearly felt it time to break new ground. What’s sprung from that broken ground is decidedly mixed. Foremost on the plus side is an inclusive 11-member cast of great talent...Not all these touches are annoying; some are engaging, taken in isolation...If you’re going to do an unconventional 'Oklahoma!,' at least do one that keeps the optimism of the original and tries something wildly original." Full Review
"Screaming with directorial ideas and concepts, some of which work and many others that don't, the production feels more like a doctoral thesis...Purists will be appalled and fans of experimental theater will be thrilled...The book and score are largely unchanged but the musical somehow feels much longer despite its conventional running time...While a lesser musical might benefit from such reinterpretation, Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic work, revolutionary for its time, really doesn't." Full Review
"Fish is the star of this version and the musical suffers from his indulgences...For this show to bloom, there has to be more chemistry between Laurie and Curly than was on display...The real core of this 'Oklahoma!' was the love triangle between Ado Annie, Will Parker, and Ali Hakim...In their scenes, the show blossomed into the bright golden haze I was hoping to see...The ending was altered and made little sense...For a show famous for its blending of story, song, and dance, that’s a fatal ... Full Review
for a previous production "We were not prepared for the sheer volume of invention packed into this tiny house in the backwoods. This production thrusts you into the action from the moment you walk into the theater...With all the talk of eminent statehood framing the proceedings, we’re asked to ponder the bloodiness of our country’s history and our complacency in the face of cruelty...If there is any justice in the American theater, we should see this stunning production moved somewhere closer." Full Review
for a previous production "You will be awed by how the familiar feels as fresh as the just-shucked corn piled on the set...The accomplished actors and new musical arrangements give the production a thoroughly contemporary attitude...Without irony or cynicism, director Fish has breathtakingly updated 'Oklahoma!' and maintained its all-American spirit while making it a musical of our time." Full Review
See it if you love it when new life and new ideas are breathed into a classic, you love a stripped down, folksy score, you like chili.
Don't see it if you get upset when any liberties at all, no matter how justified, are taken with a classic.
See it if You love when a classic is reimagined to a new time, place, style in a way that is refreshing and not simply for the sake of being clever.
Don't see it if You are a purist who thinks that shows should be restaged exactly how they were initially produced, including time, location, style, nuance.
See it if you’re prepared to experience the “great all-American” musical through a completely new, shockingly relevant, unbelievably stirring lens.
Don't see it if you’re a traditionalist.
See it if You love classic musicals and believe they can be retooled and reinvigorated; this is a stripped down yet FANTASTIC production.
Don't see it if You hate theatre. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone not loving this show.
See it if you like your classics in a modernized version. If you're fine with a director making many (excellent) interpretations. It's breathtaking.
Don't see it if You're a purist. You want to understand everything (sometimes it's hard to grasp the dialogue, since often the actors don't use mics)
See it if You want to see a revival that reveals the depth and darkness in Oklahoma! that you rarely ever see, yet keeps the usual aesthetics.
Don't see it if You want to remember Oklahoma! as a bright, sunshine-and-lollipop feel-good musical.
See it if You want to see a newly envisioned "Oklahoma" for today, mining the essence of the original work for its timeless themes.
Don't see it if You are a musical theater purist who dislikes seeing new takes on classic works.
See it if You tend to like experimental theatre or if you like to see classic works looked at from a completely new point of view.
Don't see it if You like your musicals performed in a standard way.
See it if you qppreciate the classics but prefer more contemporary, relevant theater. This is a stunning blend of both with perfect casting.
Don't see it if you aren’t up for a retelling of a classic and if you need to have a happy ending.
See it if you want to see an old-fashioned musical turned into something relevant and contemporary. This version also speaks to our times.
Don't see it if you only want to see traditional versions of classic musicals.
See it if you love seeing Classic works given new life... I'd choose a revival like this over a revival like the recent hello dolly any day
Don't see it if you are too damn traditional
See it if It’s not your high school’s Oklahoma. This is a gritty and sometimes painful production that leaves you in shock and astonishment.
Don't see it if A “new” production of the old work horse. You don’r Like Blood. Intamacy. Cornbread.
See it if you love Oklahoma! and if you love the theater. Very few textual changes and yet it feels completely fresh. I was riveted.
Don't see it if you only like your R&H the old fashioned way, no, on section thought, do! I bet it will challenge you in a really great way.
See it if You love reimagined classics, you want to see a fresh take, you like sexy and edgy theatre, you want an immersive experience
Don't see it if You are easily triggered by violence or provocative sexuality, you want a happy/typical version of the classic show
See it if you like stripped down versions of classics, and will enjoy a dark take on what is already a pretty dark story.
Don't see it if you're a R&H purist, you take issue with non-traditional casting and you want big production values.
See it if This is the best musical revival I've ever seen, as it highlights the violence and misogyny of the culture it represents.
Don't see it if Everything is superb, especially the new orchestrations, the SOUND -- performers are not wearing mics! -- and the performances themselves...
See it if you are curious how an old fashioned romantic musical could be updated to be relevant for today's darker times yet still remain entertaining
Don't see it if you vote red, believe that America was once great and we need to go back to those better times. This show questions how great we really were
See it if You want to see a completely new and interesting take on a classic musical. It's a fantastic production!
Don't see it if You really don't like Oklahoma, but even then I think it's worth the see.
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