Loud boos. Audible vomiting. How the pissed off “Oklahoma!” from Broadway! crossed America » Lesnouvelles.live

The following contains spoilers for the Broadway musical revival “Oklahoma!” “, Currently on national tour.

The latest Broadway revival of “Oklahoma!” ”, Ending its one-year national tour, generally leaves the spectators in adoration, awe, anger or confusion. Some performances from Tony’s winning production continued amid loud walkouts or loud boos; one ended with a boss running from his seat and vomiting at a volume clearly audible to the actors.

“I distinctly remember bowing as an older white man frowned and waved both thumbs down directly in front of me in the front row,” lead actress Sasha Hutchings, who plays the Laurey’s role. “I know this show can be shocking and disorienting, especially for those who are very attached to what this piece represents in their minds. But I trust this article and I trust this version, and even when there is a negative reaction, it is hopefully productive. This guy, something happened with him; he’s not going to forget it, it’s not going to leave him quickly.

It is rare that a roadshow, even anecdotal, arouses such notable reactions (a Times reader called it “shocking, destructive and an affront to the creators of the musical in 1943”. the golden age of musical theatre. »[It’s] an ingenious medley of entertainment,” Edwin Schallert of The Times wrote of a 1946 performance. “It is so exceptional and in a sense unanalyzable. »

“Oklahoma! company members, left to right, Mitch Tebo, Ugo Chukwu, Christopher Bannow, Sasha Hutchings, Benj Mirman, Sis, Sean Grandillo and Barbara Walsh.

(Evan Zimmermann)

With its seemingly light plot, crowd-pleasing comedy, and catchy musical numbers, “Oklahoma!” itself has become synonymous with the romanticized, ahistorical, and idealistic American identity with which it struggles in the text. This is largely due to the 1955 film adaptation, notes Times critic Charles McNulty“The vision of America emanating from the silver screen, with its glittering cornfields, folksy goodness and simplicity, was immediately incorporated into a nation’s self-esteem. ‘Oklahoma!’ is not just a musical but a cornerstone of the American myth.

It is quite surprising that a new version of a work so regularly performed in schools and community theaters is described as ” nervous, “ “dark” and ” creepy “, and insulted like “Woke-lahoma,” “Sexy Oklahoma” and “Oklahoma! this f-. Director Daniel Fish wasn’t aiming for such adjectives and nicknames when he originally staged a stripped-down interpretation with Bard College students in 2007. The experiment – ​​which later morphed into a fully staged production at Bard in 2015, an off-Broadway run in 2018, and a Broadway transfer in 2019 — laid bare the text’s sexual tension, toxic masculinity, and American genocidal means-to-end methodology.

“The truth is, it was instinct or whim – something inside me was like, ‘I want to do this,'” he recalled of the play’s first selection. “I think I went into it thinking, ‘I kind of know the show,’ and then I jumped in and realized, ‘No, I don’t know the show at all.’ It’s brilliant writing – there’s a convoluted, intricate story that I didn’t know was there about the nature of the community, the role of the outsider, and a miscarriage of justice. When I watched this [trial in the] last scene, I definitely said, ‘Wait a minute. What is that ? »

Fish worked closely on iconoclastic revival with the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization, which “had questions and concerns, but they were never prescriptive, it was always a conversation.” Without changing any of the lyrics and tweaking just a few lines, Fish’s bold reimagining — set in a gun-roofed community hall and featuring a bluegrass band — reframes many of the show’s often sentimentalized mainstays.

Tensions simmer at the social box attended, center left, by Christopher Bannow’s Jud, Sean Grandillo’s Curly and Sasha Hutchings’ Laurey.

(Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

Is the central conflict really a ‘love triangle’ if coveted farmer Laurey – a woman with no options in Oklahoma’s Claremore Indian Territory in 1906 – must choose between the handy cowboy Curly or the harassing farmhand Jud ? Is it so funny when Curly tries to convince Jud to kill himself so he can date Laurey by default, and is it so romantic when they both offer everything they have to “win” her in a auction? And in the end, who is really responsible for Jud’s death?

Numerous subreddit son have debated the latter question, as previous stagings have framed the scene as a clear victory over a villain. His stage directions originally depict Jud as falling on his own knife, “which is exactly what happens” in the revival, says Fish of Jud, who now puts the gun in Curly’s hand, takes a slight step towards him and slowly lies down on getting shot. “I love having heard so many different interpretations, but for me it’s a suicide in which he forces everyone to be involved. »

Fish’s decision to slow down the subsequent “trial” makes the community’s spontaneous and swift exoneration of the blood-covered Curly all the more sinister – a baffling choice for fans of earlier versions. “All those lines are normally played for laughs,” says Barbara Walsh, who started her career with an “Oklahoma! toured and now plays Aunt Eller. “But everyone saw this crime happen and no one is saying anything, we are keeping what we know to be true. So what Daniel did was expose the flaws and the humanity, or lack of humanity, of these people.

All of the characters, each in varying states of disbelief and distress about what they have collectively done, then launch into the famous “Oklahoma!” song, during which many spectators smile, clap and sing. “When I first saw this, I was really disturbed,” says Fish. “And then it got so interesting that people were doing this after the scene that had just happened. This is the world we live in.

This was especially true when the tour stopped in Oklahoma City, where its titular tune is the state song. “We could see some people stop clapping, like ‘maybe I shouldn’t’, but towards the end of the song they were like, ‘We see what crazy happened, we don’t care, we’re gonna keep going anyway,’ then they’d start again,” says Ugo Chukwu, who plays Cord. “I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s how it is.’ »

Christopher Bannow, center, as Jud, Sasha Hutchings as Laurey and Sean Grandillo and Curly in Jud’s death scene in “Oklahoma!” by Rodgers & Hammerstein.

(Evan Zimmermann)

On tour “Oklahoma!” – which closes at the Ahmanson Theater this weekend and will open in the West End next year – meant making compromises, like rearranging the blocking in the round for the proscenium stages and realizing the band’s amplified sound from seven musicians in much larger venues. Regional presenters strongly called for a shortened dream ballet, which illustrates Laurey’s attraction between Curly and Jud. “There was a fear that small-town audiences couldn’t handle it, that it was too weird for them,” Fish said. “It irritates me, because the public is often smarter and more playful than we think. »

Well, most audiences, that is. Among the production’s rave reviews and standing ovations, there are critics who say so “wreaks havoc on a musical theater classic” and ticket holders who depart at intermission. Fish doesn’t care if viewers don’t “get it” (what frustrates him more is when the piece is distorted by misleading marketing descriptions or this “Late Late Show with James Corden” bit, which “doesn’t represent the show at all. “). But some of that negativity — in print, on message boards, on social media, in person — took its toll on the cast.

“I didn’t make this show for people to stand up and clap and love it every time,” Hutchings says. “But at the end of the day, I’m still a human being, and I’m on stage myself to give you the most honest performance possible. It’s very painful when I feel like someone meets me with that kind of rejection or disdain.

Such discomforts could be growing pains. “The theater has always been accessible and available to the same group of people, and has been, for the most part, a safe space for those viewers,” says Sis, who plays Ado Annie. “I think these older white people understand that theater is changing and a work can live in a lot of different ways.

“It was interesting to watch Daniel, this older white man, take this coin that has served his community well and turn it against them like a gun,” she adds. “All we can do is play what we’ve created together and say, ‘That’s what ‘Oklahoma!’ really was, compared to what you all created in your heads. You can take it or leave it, we get paid either way.

Source: www.latimes.com

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