Oklahoma! - Violence as American as Chili and Cornbread
|The rifles, the chili, the playbill|
In fact, Act One of Daniel Fish's Oklahoma! might be stripped down to only a small band and twelve singers but it's basically your grandmother's Oklahoma! Curly is still the handsome cowboy who wants to take the standoffish Laurey to the dance social, Aunt Eller (a wonderful Mary Testa) is still a down-home slice of wisdom, and the comic trio of Ado Annie/Will Parker/Ali Hakim is unchanged. The laughs come easily.
|Daunno and Testa|
|Patrick Vail and Will Brill|
|Gabrielle Hamilton, photo @ Sara Krulwich|
|Ali Stroker, Will Brill, James Davis, photo @ Sara Krulwich|
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED
|Daunno and Jones. Spoiler: the wedding dress won't remain white|
There is a mock trial that is chilling in its lack of regard for the human life lost. In the "traditional" version Jud is the aggressor so the mock trial is more justified. But here Curly shot an unarmed Jud. The fact that the one person to speak up against the "mock trial" is the federal marshal and in this production he's played by an African American actor (Anthony Carson) AND Aunt Eller shuts his protests down with a brutal, condescending air that comes across as very Jim-Crow-era gives the finale (a reprise of the title song) a bleak, disturbing feeling. Are we even supposed to like these people? Laurey's shocked face as she sings in her bloody wedding gown gives an entirely different spin on this classic.
|Jones and Daunno|
But this revival makes an impact and will interest anyone who thought they knew all there was to know about Rodgers' and Hammerstein's musical. It's very different from the delightful but conventional Kiss Me Kate revival.The loneliness and anger of Jud reminds one of all the "manifestos" that have been found after a mass shooting. And the gun violence that is so frequent that it barely makes the news ... That's the reaction to Jud's death. After all, violence is as American as chili and corn bread.