Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
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Hugh Jackman and Maureen Lipman star in the multi-award-winning Royal National Theatre production of this beloved Broadway favorite! Songs include Oh What a Beautiful Morning, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top , the title classic and more. 1999/color/3 hrs/NR/fullscreen.
When Mary Rodgers, daughter of the composer Richard Rodgers, was reported as saying she never wanted to see another Oklahoma!, it was her way of paying the highest tribute to Trevor Nunn's production at the Royal National Theatre which was subsequently taken into the studio and filmed. The camera follows the playgoers into the auditorium of the Olivier where in their company we watch the show and applaud the numbers as the real thing. Nunn treats Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration with the utmost seriousness, restoring the full text so that it comes across as a drama indebted to Eugene O'Neill. Although Oklahoma! unfolds at a leisurely pace, it is extraordinary how one is drawn into the drama under Nunn's direction.
There's seldom a wish for true locations as the pace picks up and we move into the claustrophobic company of Judd Fry in his riveting encounter with the cowboy Curly. The close-up camera work affords an experience the theatre can't bring and also pays handsome dividends in appreciating Susan Stroman's intricate and lively choreography. Her dancers are a fine team, notably Jimmy Johnston who is outstanding as Will Parker leading the Kansas City ensemble. Hugh Jackman (X-Men) as Curly matches him in vocal prowess and looks, and Shuler Hensley sings the tricky role of Judd Fry very well. It's harder to place Peter Polycarpou's Pedlar, a considerably larger role than in the film version, whose accent strays from London's East End to the plains of Europe. Maureen Lipman, rightly deemed the lynchpin of the musical by Nunn, is a joy to watch as Aunt Eller. Laurey (Josefina Gabrielle) and Ado Annie (Vicki Simon) are good but not special. Aside from an abrupt start to Act Two and the occasional voice off microphone, the production sounds good with a larger orchestra present than in the theatre. An Oklahoma! on an epic scale. --Adrian EdwardsSee all Editorial Reviews
- 2-disc set
- 60-minute making-of program
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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.
What's particularly great about this production is that in Laurey's Dream Ballet, because both Curly and Laurey are triple threats, they dance the ballet themselves instead of having dancer stand-ins. There isn't a weak link in this chain, every performer here is top rate...and as down-home as they come! It was choreographed by Susan Stroman before she became the Belle of Broadway, and all the dancing is top-rate. As I said, you'll never believe it was done by the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, in the Olivier Theatre. Don't hesitate to get your hands on this DVD, it's a winner, and makes us proud that American musical theatre has become a true art form. Wonderful.
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!
Most recent customer reviews
So glad this disc is once again available.