What is better than Hugh Jackman on stage in London in Oklahoma!, oh I know, watching it on Blu-ray from the comfort of your own couch. Yes, the much acclaimed Royal National Theatre’s production of Oklahoma! is now available on Blu-ray. Bringing to your home the beauty and fun of this highly acclaimed rendition of the beloved musical.
If you don’t already know the story of Oklahoma!, it is based on the play “Green Grows the Lilac” by Lynn Riggs, adapted into a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the early 1940’s. It tells the story of a group of people that live in the Oklahoma Territory outside of the town of Claremore. The main romance is between a cowboy named Curly McLain (Jackman) and a farm girl Laurey Williams (Josefina Gabrielle). Although their love for each other is obvious from the start, the two must find a way to not only admit it to each other but also themselves. I think Curly is much more open to this than Laurey. Of course, it can’t be as straight forward as that. You have another man trying for Laurey’s attention by the name of Jud, the farm hand. In this rendition of Oklahoma!, Jud is played by Shuler Hensley who won a Tony Award for his performance. To fill out the play, there are many other members of the town who will lend their voices to the fray. Including my favorite, Ado Annie, a girl who ‘just can’t say no.’
This version of Oklahoma! has all you could want in a play. Great sets, acting, music, and choreography. The entire cast is superb, there is not a moment when you feel as if the play is dragging. This is all enhanced by the fact that it is brought to you on blu-ray, which makes you feel as if you are in the audience. And this is where I run into my only real complaint about the release. The way the camera angles are set up at times which consistently show the audience, especially during scene changes. I understand that the benefits of this being a video release, we are able to see the play from different angles, but looking back at the audience should not be one of them. We are the audience, we need to be looking at the stage. Even if this means that the screen goes black for a couple seconds while the stage hands move the sets around. And even then it doesn’t take long considering the sets are set up on a rotating floor. This is part of the stage experience and should not be broken just because it is a home video release.
Also, you may want to note that during the overture, the play is shown in segments on the curtain, so if you do not want to see the play before watching it, you may want to skip the overture.
This version of Oklahoma! won many awards including; 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Outstanding Musical Production, Best Set Designer, Best Choreographer, and Best Supporting Performance, the London Eventing Standard Award for Best Musical, the Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 International Emmy, and the 2000 Chicago Gold Camera Award.
This release also includes a behind the scenes, “The Making of Oklahoma!“