2019 Broadway Revival
After a unique creative process, director Daniel Fish’s critically acclaimed production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! arrived at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre on April 7, 2019, where it ran for 328 performances. The stage was first set when Bard College invited Fish to direct a production featuring undergraduate actors. Fish’s new interpretation of Oklahoma! then premiered as a professional production as part of Bard’s SummerScape in 2015. In fall 2018, it played the St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn before venturing across the East River to Broadway.
Performed in the round, with chili and cornbread served at intermission, this immersive reinterpretation used new arrangements by Daniel Kluger, performed onstage by a seven-piece country-western band. Ben Brantley of The New York Times called Fish’s reinvention a “mirror for our age of doubt and anxiety. This is Oklahoma! for an era in which longstanding American legacies are being examined with newly skeptical eyes… This isn’t an act of plunder, but of reclamation. And a cozy old friend starts to seem like a figure of disturbing — and exciting — depth and complexity.”
The production featured Mary Testa as Aunt Eller, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey, Damon Daunno as Curly, Patrick Vaill as Jud Fry, James Davis as Will Parker, and Ali Stroker, whose performance as Ado Annie won the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, making her the first performer in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award.
Director Daniel Fish’s Tony Award-winning reinterpretation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! allowed audiences to see the show with a new lens. With a bluegrass twang, this cast album features Tony Award-nominated orchestrations by Daniel Kluger for a band of seven, under the musical direction of Nathan Koci. Kluger’s reimagining of the score was described by The New York Times as having “the vernacular throb and straightforwardness of country and western ballads.” Released on August 23, 2019, the album debuted at #2 on the Cast Album Billboard charts, just behind Hamilton and beating out Broadway megahits Dear Evan Hansen and Wicked. The Grammy-nominated cast includes Damon Daunno, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Mary Testa, Patrick Vaill, James Davis and Ali Stroker, who became the first Tony Award-winning actor using a wheelchair for her performance as Ado Annie.