The classic (and first) Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! gets a Blu-ray release. This Royal National Theatre production features Hugh Jackman in the lead and director Trevor Nunn at the helm. After finishing their run on the London stage, the cast filmed the musical in a large soundstage made to resemble their staging.
Jackman plays the cowboy Curly who is in love with farm girl Laurey (Josefina Gabrielle), but their immature flirtation leads her to accept an invitation to the big social dance by creepy Jud (Shuler Hensley—who won an Olivier Award for this role). While Laurey's romantic drama plays out, Ado Annie (Vicki Simon) has her own relationship dilemma. She's torn between Persian peddler Ali Hakim (Peter Polycarpou) and her original sweetheart Will (Jimmy Johnston). With the help of Laurey's Aunt Eller (Maureen Lipman), the girls navigate the courtship rituals of frontier life.
Despite the show's groundbreaking influence on musicals (using songs to advance and illuminate storytelling), Oklahoma! is exceedingly lengthy (clocking it at 3 full hours). Yet it does have some great moments. From Jackman’s opening with the classic "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" to Simon's amusing "I Cain't Say No" to the titular group number "Oklahoma!" there are plenty of amusing numbers to keep your interest (and plenty of dull ones to lose it). But one of the best segments of the film is the dream dance sequence choreographed by Susan Stroman—even if this 15-minute ballet is an excessive dramatizaton of Laurey's love triangle woes.
Oklahoma! is certainly not the greatest musical; yet, whether or not you like Rodgers & Hammerstein, you can't deny their indelible contribution to musical theater. And in this production, Nunn has gathered some great actors to portray these characters (even if some of them have a hard time masking their British accents with strong Southern ones), making this particular Blu-ray one to have in your musical collection.
A behind-the-scenes featurette follows Trevor Nunn's journey in reviving this classic musical.
"Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!" is on sale December 4, 2012 and is not rated. Musical. Directed by Chris Hunt, Trevor Nunn. Written by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II. Starring Hugh Jackman, Jimmy Johnston, Josefina Gabrielle, Maureen Lipman, Peter Polycarpou, Shuler Hensley, Vicki Simon.