BBC culture writer Natasha Tripney has written a provocative essay arguing that Rodgers & Hammerstein were more serious, more sensual and more innovative than most historians and audiences have recognized.
“Oklahoma! is one of the world’s great musicals,” she writes. “But it’s also much darker than many realize – as are all of composing duo Rodgers and Hammerstein’s shows.”
Of Daniel Fish’s recent production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Tripney writes:
“A lot of the conversation surrounding Fish’s production in the US concentrated on its carnality, on the heat generated between the performers. But again, he was drawing from the source. Oklahoma!, he says, is a show with ‘sex and death at the heart of it.’ [Actor Patrick] Vaill agrees. ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein were sexy people,’ he says. ‘Carousel has complicated sexuality and South Pacific, that’s some hot stuff. They were hip to the idea that people have desires. This play, it’s entirely about sex.'”
Read more of Tripney’s fascinating essay, entitled “Oklahoma!: The ‘Cosy’ US Classic that’s Really About Sex and Death,” here.