The corn is as extreme as an elephant’s eye, and so is my blood stress, thanks to the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”
In director Daniel Fish’s pretentious manufacturing — which opened Sunday on Broadway, current from Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse — each half you cherish about this classic has been taken out behind the barn and shot, modified by an auteur’s bag of suggestions and a thesis on gun administration and westward progress. Here, the West was obtained by a convention of violence and toxic masculinity — what pleasing!
The viewers on the Circle inside the Square Theatre sits on three sides of the stage, the plywood-covered partitions plastered with rifles. The pit orchestra’s further like a seven-person bluegrass band, decked out in plaid, and the house lights are cranked all the way in which during which up. This seems to be like like a hootenanny, you suppose.
Well, preserve your horses. The lights carry on within the residence for a lot of of the current, maybe to create intimacy. But the nearly fastened brightness, which changes solely a handful of events to neon inexperienced or purple and at one stage goes darkish fully, muddies the storytelling. No scene seems any completely totally different from the next, and your complete factor is a principally joyless chore.
The story stays the an identical. Two potential suitors, cowboy Curly (Damon Daunno) and farm hand Jud (Patrick Vaill), every dream of accompanying Laurey (carried out with a furrowed brow by Rebecca Naomi Jones) to the sphere social and previous.
You might recall Curly as a heroic Hugh Jackman form, who grins by “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin,’ ” and Jud as an Andre the Giant form. No longer. Now, every of them are stick-thin creeps with greasy hair. Lucky for us, they’ve horrible purty singing voices.
So does Ali Stroker, who performs Ado Annie, the gal who can’t say no, reverse James Davis’ doofy Will Parker. The humorous, sexier-than-usual pair tries their most interesting to maintain points gentle on this huge frown of a staging, as does Will Brill as their third wheel, oily peddler Ali Hakim.
In actuality, they and Mary Testa’s pushy Aunt Eller may very well be a implausible addition to another manufacturing of “Oklahoma!” But their instruction proper right here would seem to be “have a lousy time.” The actors lounge spherical on benches, speaking quietly with no particular funding inside the scene. When we arrive on the should-be showstoppers — the title tune, “The Farmer and the Cowman” — choreographer John Heginbotham has the stable lazily amble spherical as if drunk.
Agnes De Mille’s well-known Dream Ballet has been ditched for an overlong, gymnastics flooring prepare danced, with admirable muscularity, by Gabrielle Hamilton in little better than a shiny T-shirt finding out “Dream Baby Dream.” Lovely.
Some of Fish’s ideas are pleasing. The chili and cornbread doled out to the viewers at intermission is tasty, and the women snapping ears of corn all through “Many A New Day” presents the scene rebellious vitality. But in putting his actors in modern robe, making weapons his wallpaper and forcing every second gun is brandished and even talked about to have bombastic significance, Fish clearly is saying he’s not an unbelievable fan of the custom of the Great Plains — of yesteryear or yesterday. In a preposterously heavy-handed sequence, he even has Jud present Curly with a pistol, pretty than the usual knife, which leads to a shocking nevertheless inane conclusion. All this, in a hokey outdated current that options the lyric, “Gonna give ya barley, carrots and potaters.” Listening to the New York viewers applauding their very personal virtuosity makes a person want to put this “Oklahoma!” out to pasture.