The British "Oklahoma"
Posted 29 March 2002 - 01:19 PM
Posted 29 March 2002 - 01:43 PM
Perhaps it was a success in London because the original wasn't as well known there? There was certainly a lot of pre-opening hype here. We were going to get a great, revived musical. But the post-opening buzz has been a bit more reserved.
Did anyone else see this?
Posted 30 March 2002 - 03:47 AM
Posted 30 March 2002 - 05:40 AM
Changing these classics just seems sacrilegious....and yet, I enjoyed Sylvie G's Giselle last summer when La Scala paid a visit to Licoln Center.... Perhaps this is why so many ballet lovers were upset by her version? When is it "OK" to change things and when is it not?
Posted 30 March 2002 - 05:56 AM
I have seen updates of shows that respected the original and just made them a bit better (Cabaret comes to mind!), but have also seen things that seem to me to be sacreligious to change. My favorite show in the world has always been Showboat, perhaps because it was the first show I ever did, but also because of Kern's music. The latest production on B'way, a few years ago, made some changes that really did not work for me. It was overall a pretty good show still, but it was not the show I know, so, like with a beloved and lasting classic ballet, some things should just not be messed with!
Posted 30 March 2002 - 01:31 PM
Posted 01 April 2002 - 08:47 AM
Posted 01 April 2002 - 01:44 PM
Posted 01 April 2002 - 05:33 PM
While the de Mille choreography was certainly seminal in the history of the musical, I don't think changing the choreography for Oklahoma is as sacriligious as changing the choreography for Swan Lake (not that anyone would dream of doing such a thing, right?). For the most part, a ballet IS the choreography, and, while a musical's choreography is an important element of the whole, it's far from the entire thing.
I liked Nunn's approach to staging Oklahoma very much, and was a bit disappointed by the lukewarm reviews. I liked the gritty and weathered look -- the antique churn Aunt Eller uses to make butter while Curly sings "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," the magnifcently worn chaps and dungarees of the cowboys, or the way Curly rolls and lights a cigarette before launching into "The Surrey with the Fringe On Top." I really loved Stroman's choreography -- if there was a lot of "foot-stamping," well, that's what guys did back then, and her dances were built on the social dances of the time. And I thought the men all danced spectacularly (it's hard not to love Wil's lariat-twirling during "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City"), and her staging of "The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends" was nothing short of brilliant. It's not easy to choreograph mayhem, and this was the grandest and most rollicking stage fight I've ever seen.
Given the way Nunn focussed on the simmering and barely controlled sexuality of the characters, I didn't find the dance-hall girls to be too far over the top. I rather liked the poofy skirts to their corsets, and that despite the black-and-white look to Laury's dream, that each girl had her own brightly, and differently colored undies. This is a darker Oklahoma than I think we're used to, but that doesn't make it a lesser one.
As a former fan of the late, lamented SCTV, I was thrilled to see what a great job Andrea Martin did as Aunt Eller. And the lighting was spectacular thoughout.
I don't think it hurts a great work like Oklahoma to be seriously rethought and re-invented from time to time. Nunn takes Oklahoma very seriously indeed, and I only wish that the various choreographers whom we have to thank for one dreadful recension of Swan Lake after another would approach their task, and their responsibilities, with a fraction of Nunn's respect, intelligence and integrity.
Posted 01 April 2002 - 06:05 PM
This is not my favourite musical, by a long shot, but I know it very well. I thought it had new life in it, I thought it far less hackneyed and stereotyped than the film version or other productions which I have attended.
Just to prove a point to myself (I loved it the first time I saw it and wanted to make certain that I was just not being misty-eyed), I took two young professional dancers with me to gauge their reactions. One knew it intimately, the other slightly, and they were both very, very impressed. The dancing was interesting to watch, the performers sustainiing a character-believability throughout, as well.
I have to disagree with atm about the costumes--they were well designed to withstand the rigors of performance, the subtle details (like fastenings) were appropriate, the weathering/aging of the materials done well, and the fabric choices perfectly in time (down to the differentiation in petticoats, bloomers and wooly stockings.) Admittedly, I am looking at this as a professional costumer and admittedly-amateur costume historian, but I have been doing this for many, many years. (I had minor quibbles about some of the hairstyles, but...:rolleyes:)
I think it's an interesting production--the lighting is especially noteworthy--- although the Gershwin is a fairly charmless venue.....
It is a dark musical in some ways (Rogers was not exactly Mr. Sweetness and Light), but I was much more terrified of the Judd in the film version--this actor has a magnificent voice and, let's face it, a great role to flesh out. The dream sequence was all in black and white and the dance hall girls were a lilting note in what was essentially a fairly haunting sequence. By the way, I think it is perfectly appropriate for a younger audience, if this is a concern to some, as nothing is even remotely graphic as compared to the current offerings on MTV or VH1.
For me, this Oklahoma was well sung, well danced, well-produced, well-played and vastly more interesting in some ways for contemporary audiences than the original. Different, but just as worthy.
Posted 02 April 2002 - 12:55 PM
Posted 02 April 2002 - 01:18 PM
Posted 03 April 2002 - 11:30 AM
Stroman sticks to De Mille's scenario, relentlessly administering shots of adrenaline at every turn. She's terrific at letting a small movement phrase grow in exuberance until the entire stage is wildly animated. But she does this to excess, adding gymnastic tricks for emphasis, and the cumulative effect is exhausting. Worse, she's unable to find a latter-day equivalent to the homey innocence of De Mille's tone; in her hands, the looming threat (and lure) of the "bad guy" escalates to something as close as you can get onstage to rape. Up to date in Kansas City, indeed!
Posted 03 April 2002 - 12:38 PM
"Oklahoma" is of interest to ballet people because of DeMille.
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