FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Oklahoma!'
on “Great Performances”
Airs Friday, November 15th at 8:00pm as Part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival
on WTVP-HD 47.1.
- Directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the acclaimed
Royal National Theatre production reveals the work’s emotional complexity with a fresh approach -
Great news for Hollywood and Broadway fans: Hugh Jackman—who recently starred in
the worldwide hit film version of Les Misérables— can be seen again in his breakout musical role
as cowpoke Curly in GREAT PERFORMANCES Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Friday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. on WTVP-HD 47.1 as part of the
PBS Arts Fall Festival. Retransferred from the original film print, the special encore telecast
is presented for the first time in high definition.
Jackman originated the role in Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed Royal National Theatre (RNT)
production in 1998. The production was filmed at Shepperton Studios in London just before its
move from the RNT to the West End.
“A triumphant, miraculously fresh-feeling production,” wrote The New York
Times of Nunn’s re-think of the groundbreaking 1943 work, now celebrating its 70th
anniversary. Nunn, who actually directed the original stage production of Les Misérables
(as well as Great Performances’ 1993 presentation of Porgy and Bess),
won unanimous praise for exploring the darkness and depth beneath the show’s sunny surface.
While never denying the charm of the show’s beloved musical numbers, Nunn’s interpretation
fully reveals the underlying emotional complexity of the Rodgers & Hammerstein original.
This is particularly true of grizzled outsider Jud Fry, the hired man obsessed
with heroine Laurey. As portrayed by Shuler Hensley (appearing on Broadway this season in No
Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot), Jud becomes strangely sympathetic, albeit
intimidating and dangerous. Hensley was honored with both an Olivier and Tony Award for his
Matching Nunn’s character insight with inventive dance inspiration of her own
is five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, Crazy for You and the
current Broadway show Big Fish), who reconceived the original Agnes de Mille choreography
for such classics as “Kansas City,” “The Farmer and the Cowman,” and, most astonishingly, Laurey’s
pivotal “Dream Ballet.” Blessed with leads who can both sing and dance, Stroman eschews de
Mille’s famous substitution of the actors for dancers in the ballet and gives the work her own
distinctive spin, from jaunty innocence to violence and death.
Josefina Gabrielle co-stars as the headstrong Laurey. She trained at the Arts
Educational School in London, where she was invited to join the National Ballet of Portugal
and became a soloist with the company.
Also featured in the cast are Maureen Lipman (The Pianist) as Aunt Eller,
Vicki Simon as Ado Annie, Jimmy Johnston as Will Parker, and Peter Polycarpou as Ali Hakim.
The expansive, dream-like sets are by Anthony Ward, who also designed the costumes.
David Hersey is lighting designer, with John Owen Edwards as musical director. The original
orchestrations are by Robert Russell Bennett, with additional orchestrations by William David Brohn
and new dance music arranged by David Krane.
Among the work’s famous songs are “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “People Will
Say We’re in Love,” “Out of My Dreams,” “I Cain’t Say No,” “Oklahoma!,” and “Oh, What a Beautiful
Mornin’,” perhaps Rodgers & Hammerstein's most beloved creation.
It is Jackman’s rendition of the last that sets the tone for the telecast, promising
not just a “beautiful morning,” but a “beautiful day” as well. “His legs are as high as an elephant’s
eye,” wrote The London Daily Telegraph, “he is 6 feet, 3 inches of perfect tanned cowboy.
When he walks on to the stage a soft female collective sigh runs nightly round the packed auditorium.”
When Oklahoma! first aired on Great Performances
in 2003, Jackman was appearing on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre in “The Boy from Oz”
playing fellow Aussie, the late Peter Allen.
The work, based on Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs, marked the
first collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and launched what became arguably
the most successful partnership in American musical theater. Oklahoma! was soon
followed by Carousel (1945), Allegro (1947), South Pacific (1949),
The King and I (1951), Me and Juliet (1953), Pipe Dream (1955),
Flower Drum Song (1958) and The Sound of Music (1959). For the movies they
wrote State Fair (1945) and for television (for Julie Andrews) they created
Cinderella (1957), now enjoying a Broadway stage production.
Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected
public media providers. Throughout its 40 year history on public television, Great
Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of
the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring
broadcaster of cultural programming. Over the course of its four decades, the series has been
the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and
popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! is a production of
Oklahoma! Screen Productions Limited, in association with The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.
It is directed for television by Trevor Nunn and Chris Hunt, with Hunt and Richard Price as producers.
Paul Wheeler is director of photography.
For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer, and
David Horn is executive producer.
Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by
the Irene Diamond Fund, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Agnes Varis Trust, Rosalind
P. Walter, The Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, public television viewers
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media
provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality
arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces
and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to
Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural
offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created
such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators
that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s
unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the
multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting
with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream
PBS content for free.
About the PBS Arts Fall Festival
As part of its commitment to increase every American’s access to — and participation in — the
arts, PBS kicks off the multiplatform PBS Arts Fall Festival on Friday, October 18, 2013, hosted
by award-winning television, film and stage star Anna Deavere Smith. Anchored by broadcasts
every Friday night and a range of related online content, the Fall Festival features artists and
performances from across the country, comprised of full-length performances, behind-the-scenes
interviews, and artist and performer profiles.
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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