Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
A collaboration between Theatre UCF and UCF Music
Directed by Earl D. Weaver
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration remains, in many ways, their most innovative, having set the standards and established the rules of musical theatre still being followed today. Set in a Western Indian territory just after the turn of the century, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story. Although the road to true love never runs smooth, with these two headstrong romantics holding the reins, love’s journey is as bumpy as a surrey ride down a country road. That they will succeed in making a new life together we have no doubt, and that this new life will begin in a brand-new state provides the ultimate climax to the triumphant Oklahoma!
Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends.
One man likes to push a plow,
The other likes to chase a cow,
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.
–Oscar Hammerstein II
Set in a Western Indian territory at the turn of the century, the rivalry between the farmers and cowboys provides a colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story. Although the road to true love never runs smoothly, with these two headstrong romantics holding the reins, love’s journey is as bumpy as a surrey ride down a country road. There is no doubt they will succeed in making a new life together. That this new life will begin in a brand-new state provides the ultimate climax to the triumphant Oklahoma!
Oklahoma! launched a new era in American musical theatre history at the St. James Theatre on Broadway the evening of March 31, 1943. The first collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II set a new standard and established rules for musical theatre still being followed today. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian and choreographed by a then unknown ballet choreographer named Agnes de Mille, the musical is based on the play, Green Grow the Lilacs, by Lynn Riggs.
At that time, the longest running show in Broadway history had run for three years. Oklahoma! surpassed that record by two more years, running for a marathon 2,212 performances. In 1953, the Oklahoma State Legislature named “Oklahoma” the official state song. R&H Theatricals consistently licenses more than 600 productions of Oklahoma! annually in the United States and Canada alone. Worldwide, the musical has been translated into over a dozen languages, including French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Hebrew, Icelandic, Norwegian, Hungarian, Estonian, Dutch and Polish. English language productions have been seen in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa.
As we move towards the 75th anniversary of the show’s opening night on Broadway, we thought it was the perfect time to bring this classic to you in a grand way. More than 250 faculty and students from our Music and Theatre Departments have collaborated to create the production you are about to see. We hope you enjoy the performance, and do feel free to hum along with the catchy tunes.
Earl D. Weaver, Director