Oklahoma! 1998

Oklahoma! 1998

Oklahoma! brought together for the first time composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, who would go on to write nine smash hit musicals together. It opened on Broadway in 1943 with a cast of unknowns playing out the simple plot about which of two hopeful young men would take farm girl Laurey to the local dance. It seemed an insubstantial thing, which would disappear fairly quickly. However, it was a revolutionary musical in that for the first time the songs, lyrics and dances weren't simply interludes in the plot. They all contributed to moving the story or characterisations forward. Oklahoma! was also the first show to have an 'original cast' recording made, so starting another trend.

This photograph is from the National Theatre's 1998 production which won the Evening Standard Drama Award for Best Musical. In the centre are Maureen Lipman as Aunt Eller and Hugh Jackman as Curly. Jackman, like the young Harold (later Howard) Keel, who played Curly in the 1947 London premiere of the show, has gone on to great success on the silver screen.