You might have already read how this version of Oklahoma directed by Daniel Fish is so different from the versions that have played in numerous theaters across the US as well as a movie released in 1955. This version which also had a sold out run at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, feels more like real life. By that I mean it feels grittier and I felt more connected to it than the glossy technicolor versions of the past. There are a few ways they have brilliantly achieved this.
It takes place at the Circle in the Square Theatre so it is a super thrust/ almost a round. The audience is surrounding the action instead of it just taking place in front of you as in traditional theaters.
The lights are kept on for the majority of the show. You can clearly all the audience members as well as the actors making you feel more a part of the action. There are of course a few times where the cast interact directly with the audience as well.
Rather than the traditional huge orchestra the band is simplified and on stage. This gives the feel of a real “Box Social” event with the minimal yet accurate instruments including banjo, mandolin, guitars, standing bass and fiddle. The drummer even uses and old suitcase for a kick drum!
At intermission the audience is invited to the stage and cups of chili and cornbread are doled out stagecoach style. You feel like a part all of this.
I am not going to go on and on but you get the idea, this is interactive theatre done very well for a traditional Broadway show. And this is what audiences want more of these days, to be a part of the action, they want an experience and want to participate, not just be voyeurs. This is so clever by the production team.
The cast and band are fantastic all around, you can read numerous reviews on the Tony nominees and the rest of them. I’ll just say you will not regret seeing this fantastic version of Oklahoma! which I feel needed this refreshing update. Go see it now as it will be ending it’s run January 19, 2020.