That classic musical Oklahoma! is coming back to Broadway, though in a form unlike any you’ve seen before (unless you had a really cool high-school theater teacher or something). Daniel Fish’s reconceived take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical set around the advent of Oklahoma’s statehood will transfer to Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre this spring. It was previously running Off Broadway at St. Ann’s Warehouse in the fall (after being developed at the Bard SummerScape festival). Fish’s new take on the musical incorporates stripped-down versions of classic songs like “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” and “People Will Say We’re in Love,” as well as video elements, and moments of intense violence to uncover the darker themes lingering underneath the show’s sunny veneer. “Without sacrificing the show’s humor or the beauty of its music,” Sara Holdren wrote in her review. “Fish and his company have created a charged, scary production, a story about the aggressions and ambiguities entwined deep in the root system of America.”
As of now, Oklahoma! is one of only two musical revivals scheduled for this season, the other being Roundabout’s production of Kiss Me, Kate! Staged in the round at Circle in the Square, Oklahoma! will likely be able to retain many of the elements it employed at St. Ann’s. Those choices might be tough to sell to audiences expecting a more typical approach to the material, though given the Off Broadway raves, it will likely do well with critics, and potentially at the Tonys. The production has not announced whether it will retain its St. Ann’s cast, which included Rebecca Naomi Jones, Damon Daunno, Mary Testa, and Patrick Vail. Oklahoma! will start performances on March 19 and open April 7.