Monday, June 9, 2015 – “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” – Oklahoma – The Stage and Film Productions – Not the State
This one’s for you, JLW – comments and corrections most desired! A fantasy, a dream and a bucket list item. See what you can do. It’s also for Kristen, Gayla and all the wonderful Okies and transplants.
People who can sing are amazing. People who can dance are equally amazing. But people who can do them simultaneously are mesmerizing. Nothing shows these two talents better than a great musical – especially on the stage.
I do not know who “They” are, but Oklahoma, not Carousel, is the best Rogers and Hammerstein musical. In fact Oklahoma is the best musical EVER!
Since the age of six I have worn out numerous records, LP albums, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, compact discs and IPod playlists of the soundtrack to Oklahoma. It is my Go to Happy Music.
The stage production premiered on Broadway in 1943. It was Agnes de Mille’s first time to choreograph a musical on Broadway. You can Google the rest of the Broadway history.
The film version was released in 1955. Auditions for the lead role of Curly McLain included James Dean and Paul Newman. The lead role of Laurey Williams was offered to Joann Woodward, who turned it down. Curly went to Gordon MacRae and Laurey went to Shirley Jones, who had played the role on Broadway.
Side note: I watched The Long-Hot Summer last night with Newman and Woodward – HOT!!! I thought the TV might melt. I know I was. Of course it was based on the greatest writer to come from the state of Mississippi and the entire South – William Cutbirth Faulkner. You were expecting John Grisham? Back on topic…
I have childhood memories of my mother and me waltzing around the living room singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” Back in my room in the Magnolia House (where the Catholic Church now sits), I would sing all of the parts to the score. Gordon MacRae – that booming voice – Oh, be still my heart. Shirley Jones’voice! Mama Partridge, you take my breath away.
Today, I can still sing all of the parts – even the “Pore Jud Is Daid” scene with Rod Steiger. And I am not ashamed to admit that I own a sing-a-long version of the movie. The movie and my singing seem to get better with wine as the movie plays, but maybe that’s just me.
So my fantasy, dream and bucket list item is to be in a production of Oklahoma. It would probably help if I could sing and dance. Damn, I should have taken your mother’s dance classes. But to paraphrase Doo to Loretta in Coal Miner’s Daughter, “I ain’t too ignorant to learn.” And a part in the chorus would be fine.
Does playing Constance Dinwiddie in my high school Senior Play and being The Tin Man in my college sorority’s theme party count for anything? Duets between me and BFF Troglodyte at the Magnolia Methodist Church do not count. Our mothers made us sing those – usually because we were in trouble.
“OOOOOOKLAHOMA! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains; and the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when wind comes right behind the rain…”
Trivia – the opening scenes and much of the outdoor scenes of the film were shot in Arizona. Why? The outdoor scenes could not be shot in Oklahoma because there were too many oil wells in the background.
Cast from 1955 Film Oklahoma