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Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! [Blu-ray]
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(May 30, 2017)
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Set in the early 20th century, Oklahoma centers on singing cowboy Curly McLain who tries to woo and win the heart of his childhood friend, Laurey Williams.
The show debuted on Broadway in 1943 and was later adapted for the 1955 Academy Award-winning film.
A Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, the musical features a slate of songs that have become part of the American songbook, like "Oklahoma!, ", "Surrey With A Fringe On Top, ", "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, ", "People Will Say We re In Love", and others. The writers received a special Pulitzer Prize for this work in 1944.
Top Customer Reviews
endured various ho hum stagings of this 'old thing'. I know I did. Gradually, however, it became clear that virtually every bit player, dancer,singer on stage is performing brilliantly. I kept thinking about how Placido Domingo lights up the stage with a voice that causes the stage boards to vibrate-with every chorus member so inspired, they are all just start "living the parts"! Hugh Jackman, of "Nicole Kidman-Australia" movie fame, electrifies the entire ensemble. Here is a seriously underated actor in Hugh, nay, singer, and dancer!...They are all supreme naturals. I could go on with detailed descriptions of each character-such as the Italian peddler, whose performance rivals Simone Alaimo as Dr. Dulcamara in "l'Elisir d'Amore " . Or Hugh playing "Curly" who sings a delightful tune to Judd about how delightful it would be if he just went ahead and
"offed his-self"..and you might think, well, that's not a very nice thing to sing to the poor old sweaty , filthy,trigger happy, knife happy, arson happy, dangerously crazed muscle head...until you get a load of his chilling performance, and you'll be thinking, "Oh yeah...the sooner we arrange this suicide the better".
Enjoying the perfection of the performances allowed me to really appreciate the array of melodis and tempo changes. It saddens me to think that it seems no one can create a timeless libretto, choc a bloc with memorable music today.
I found myself laughing til I cried at the "girl fight". This performance is full of these sparkling vingettes.
A production that comes very close, might be "Death Takes a Holiday", also available on Amazon, but only in CD soundtrack form. That one too should be staged and filmed by the same people dripping with talent that staged this 'old thing'.
You will be proud to have this 'early Hugh Jackman' in your collection. I'd go so far as to say, it isn't a "collection" without this fine work ...don't dawdle , now. You people study this and see how it's really done.
Then, There's that cast. Pure O.D. talent. This is the first time that the singer hero, heroine, and villain were the same actors as the dancer hero, heroine, and villain in the ballet scene of any Oscar and hammerstein musical. The character parts were each and every one outstanding,too. There was not a single moment during the show when you could realize that the actors were all british. The illusion of being in Oklahoma was perfect. Particular credit is due to Hugh Jackman. He played Curly as a true western character down to the least mannerism while singing up a storm. It was only after hearing him speak in his true cockney voice during the commentaries that I realised the full scope of his performance.
This show is a landmark in the history of musical theatre, but you should buy it because, in final analysis, it's just a whole lot of fun!
The cast of this version is so wonderful that it is impossible to talk about them in anything but superlatives. (I might make a slight, regretful exception for Vicki Simon as Ado Annie, who is merely very good whereas everyone else is spectacular.) As Will Parker, Jimmy Johnston--an endearing if improbable cross between Will Rogers, Russ Tamblyn and Jack Black--barrels through his big number, "Kansas City," with infectious glee and astounding athleticism, including a dandy exhibition of trick roping. Some reviewers have pointed out that Peter Polycarpou's accent as Ali Hakim is shaky, but there's no quibbling with his singing or his comic timing; in appearance and talent, he reminds me more than a little of Tony Shalhoub. Maureen Lipman is a perfect Aunt Eller, tough as an old birch tree, plain-spoken and drily witty as she dispenses tough love to the residents of Claremore, Okla. Josefina Gabrielle is an earthier Laurey than we're used to, but she's a good singer and an exquisite dancer, and she makes Laurey's confused longings as painful as a punch in the gut.
The real acting honors, however, must be divided between the romantic rivals--Hugh Jackman as Curly and Shuler Hensley as Jud. This production launched Jackman's international career, and no wonder--from the first few bars of "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," you can't take your eyes off him. He is visually perfect as Curly, he dances well and sings beautifully, and--above all--he exudes charisma from every pore. Hensley combines a rich, operatic baritone with a brooding, menacing stage presence; he makes Jud a classic monster, evoking both pity and terror. His solo number, detailing both his pitiful loneliness and his doomed love for Laurey, is one of the most riveting pieces of dramatic singing I've ever seen or heard.