“Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’”: Oklahoma’s Opening Night


Jumping for joy—Oklahoma! cast skips with their partners in preparation for the box social dance at the beginning of Act 2.

Kelly Hon

It’s 1906 and you’re getting ready for the box social dance tonight. You’ve already prepared a lunch hamper for your boy to bid on, and you can’t wait to spend the whole night dancing with your friends. Since your crush, Curly, didn’t ask you in time, you decided to go with Jud Fry, the creepy cowhand who works on your Aunt Eller’s (Jessica Tamari) farm. Although you aren’t going with Curly, you still hope that he’ll bid on your basket later tonight.

Set in Oklahoma in 1906, Oklahoma! tells the charming love story of Laurey (Michelle Harris/Alyssa Wong) and Curly (Chris Fukuda). Unlike the stereotypical damsel in distress, Laurey is an independent young lady who is incredibly insecure: she doesn’t want her community to think that she can’t live without Curly. When she tries to go to the box social with Jud Fry (Eli Newman), she realizes that her true feelings lie with Curly.  

Meanwhile, Laurey’s friend Ado Annie (Alexis Dorf/Juliana Lichtenstein) can’t decide between two boys: Will Parker (Cooper Brown) and Ali Hakim (David Kagan/Yonathan Eilon). Will Parker has just returned home from a trip to Kansas City, during which he won $50, granting him the privilege to marry Ado Annie. Ali Hakim has just traveled to town to trade goods, and Ado Annie quickly makes an (unrequited) move on him. Although Laurey urges Ado Annie to choose between them, Ado Annie claims that she loves them both equally.

The box social dance takes place at the beginning of Act 2, and the show culminates in a wedding and a mysterious death.

Oklahoma! was the first major music collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, who went on to create other musical masterpieces such as Carousel, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music. It also kickstarted what we know today as the Golden Age of Broadway, in which musical theatre experienced a revival and gained popularity all around the world. During this time, the plotlines behind musical theater were prioritized over having large and dazzling group numbers. In the 1940s and 1950s, the world was undergoing many changes: women’s roles were changing, World War II had just come to an end, and people were starting to view Broadway shows as entertainment. We can credit Broadway’s popularity today to the incredible growth it experienced during this time period. Many iconic composers, like Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, were able to launch their careers during this time. Oklahoma! offers much more than what we see on the surface. Beneath its relaxed southern feel, it displays strong women and delves into social class issues: Jud is treated like an outcast throughout the show, whereas Curly seems infallible (even though neither character is perfect). 

Interested in knowing more? Come see Great Neck South’s production of Oklahoma! at 7:30 pm on November 18th and 19th! Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children, and seniors (65+). They are being sold through this website (https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/67531) and will also be sold at the door on the nights of the shows. Be sure to check out Theatre South’s website (http://gntheatresouth.com/) for details on upcoming performances! We hope to see you there!