Oklahoma! the Musical Is Set to Become a TV Series
“Oh, what a beautiful mornin’!”
Hitch up the surrey—you know the one, it has fringe on top—because Curly, Laurey, and Aunt Eller will soon be coming to a television screen near you.
Oklahoma!, the 1943 musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is set to be adapted into a television show, music and all. According to The Hollywood Reporter, who first shared the news, the series will be written and executive produced by screenwriter John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) and playwright and screenwriter Bekah Brunstetter (This Is Us, American Gods). Hancock will also direct the first episode. The series will be set in present day and will feature classic Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes, so many of which have become part of the shared soundtrack of American culture, as well as a new slate of original songs. The upcoming series will be produced by Skydance Television in partnership with The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and Concord.
Oklahoma! was the first musical to emerge from the music-and-lyrics partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. When it opened, the musical also featured innovative choreography by Agnes de Mille. The story is adapted from Green Grow the Lilacs, a 1930 play by poet and playwright Lynn Riggs, and it's set in Claremore, Oklahoma, where Riggs was born in 1899. The musical has been revived numerous times in the seventy-plus years since its premiere, including many memorable productions on Broadway and the West End. Oklahoma! is perennially in production, as evidenced by the fact that a contemporary staging is currently running on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
The story of Oklahoma! concerns the tense relationships between farmers and ranchers on the frontier. A box social, a wedding, and no fewer than two love triangles play themselves out over the course of the show. The musical numbers are deeply interwoven with the action of the plot, though they have become ubiquitous far beyond the proscenium arch. The soundtrack includes such songs as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "People Will Say We're in Love," "The Farmer and the Cowman," and "Oklahoma!."
There are several ways to re-visit the story before the series arrives. The best-known film version of Oklahoma! is the 1955 adaptation starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. A stellar 1999 London production was also filmed for posterity—it was directed by Trevor Nunn and stars Hugh Jackman, Josefina Gabrielle, Maureen Lipman, and Shuler Hensley, with energetic (and sometimes high-flying) choreography by Susan Stroman.
Keep an eye out for the eventual trailer, and in the meantime brush up on those classic Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes. There's only one thing left to say, and that's "Oklahomaaa, O.K.!"
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What’s at the top of your list of favorite Broadway musicals? What musicals would you like to see adapted into television shows?