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Oklahoma! returns to Richmond Theatre for the first time in 12 years

Approved by ATG's PR & Communications Officer, David Bradbury

Twickenham Operatic Society (TOpS) return in March for their annual visit to Richmond Theatre, following Guys and Dolls last year, with the perennial favourite Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!

Director, Gill Wade, shares a brief history of the show:

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! was originally entitled Away We Go, but expectations for the show to succeed were low as Hammerstein's last six shows had been flops and there were no well known names in the leading roles. Even the producer Mike Todd had walked out after Act One during the tryout in New Haven, but Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were confident they had a hit on their hands and soon the New Haven audiences were as enthusiastic as they were and it became the hottest ticket in town.

Very few changes were made before it opened on Broadway in March 1943,  but two changes that were made was to add the inspiring musical anthem Oklahoma! and to rename the show after that inspirational theme. Mike Todd was proved wrong and Oklahoma! opened on Broadway to rave reviews, every ticket was sold for months on end and Oklahoma! won a special Pulitzer Prize - it was, after all, the Box Office hit that Rodgers and Hammerstein had predicted. Oklahoma! was OK!

Oklahoma! was the forerunner of a completely new form of musical theatre starting for the first time with the leading man on stage singing a solo - Oh What a Beautiful Morning - instead of the usual opening of a show which, up to then, had always been a rip roaring full chorus number. That wasn't the only surprise as audiences were in for another shock when Act One finished with a full fifteen minute ballet choreographed by Agnes de Mille... Musicals would never again follow a set pattern.

TOpS are delighted to introduce Richmond audiences to Sasi Strallen, youngest sister of the West End stars Scarlett, Summer and Zizi. Sasi will be playing Laurey Williams, and, as well as singing the role she will be dancing the part of Laurey in the ballet instead of having to have the usual stand-in for the part... it is not often that whoever is playing Laurey is capable of dancing in the ballet as well but Sasi is more than able to do both having sung and danced all her life.

Oklahoma! is a celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein's unique talents and ushered in the 'Golden Age' of American musical theatre, and who reading this hasn't sung 'Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day' on waking up to a lovely sunny day!