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Customer Review

on December 26, 2000
Among the many innovations Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" brought to the musical theatre was the practice of taking the entire original cast into a recording studio to record the songs from the show with the original orchestrations as conducted by the original conductor. Musical theatre fans like myself are forever grateful for the invention of the original cast album that this show brought on.
But there are many other reasons why you should buy this recording besides its historical significance. This recording captures the groundbreaking show as it first sounded to audiences back in 1943, and it certainly rings with energy, heart, and obvious love and admiration. The great Robert Russell Bennett's orchestrations are still magnificent, but what especially distinguishes this album is the wonderful performances by the cast. Alfred Drake certainly gives Gordon MacRae from the 1955 film a run for his money as the definitive Curly; he has lots of energy and comic timing, and what a voice! Joan Roberts is a feisty Laurey, Lee Dixon is a fine Will Parker, and Celeste Holm, in her musical debut as Ado Annie, is completely charming. The supporting cast right down to the chorus is all first-rate, with the exception of Howard da Silva's strident Jud Fry. (It's just as well Drake recorded Jud's beautiful solo, "Lonely Room," as I doubt da Silva's version would have done it justice) By the way, though many of the stars are indeed not really known today, many of them did go on to great careers after this show; Drake was the original Fred in "Kiss Me Kate" and Hajj in "Kismet," among several other musical roles, and even tried his hand at Shakespeare, playing King Claudius in "Hamlet;" da Silva played Benjamin Franklin in the stage and screen versions of the musical "1776;" and Holm, of course, went on to a very rewarding career in theatre, movies, and television.
This recording still sounds as fresh and exciting as it must have been back in 1943. More modern recordings give you stereo sound and more complete readings of this classic score, which is certainly not a bad thing, but this recording is not only historicaly significant, but a valuable record of a great show as it first sounded.
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Product Details

4.2 out of 5 stars