Oklahoma! chorus girls

Oklahoma! chorus girls

This photograph shows dancers from the 1943 New York production of Oklahoma!. They are dressed as saloon girls in the dream ballet, which closed the first act. Based on Green Grow the Lilacs, a stage play by Lynn Riggs, Oklahoma! brought together for the first time composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. They went on to write nine Broadway musicals together, but none as important for the development of musical theatre as Oklahoma!. Story, song and, especially, the dances choreographed by Agnes de Mille, were fully integrated. For the first time dance was used not as an interlude but, in the dream ballet, to reveal the heroine’s hidden fears and desires. Oklahoma! opened in New York in 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances. When the show opened in London in 1947, its energy and optimism were a tonic for war-weary audiences and it initiated a nine year domination of Drury Lane by Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.