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“Oklahoma!,” Rodgers & Hammerstein

Oklahoma! on

Oklahoma was the first time Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein worked together. Fortunately for us all, it wasn't the last. Uploaded by

Mr. Rodgers, please meet Mr. Hammerstein. You’ve worked well with separate partners, but the stars have aligned for the two of you to join forces. In the coming years you’ll have huge hits and experience unprecedented success. And here’s your first project – a hayseed musical you’ll call “Oklahoma!”

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein on Great American Things

Rodgers and Hammerstein. Uploaded by

Turns out that the working preferences of Rodgers & Hammerstein blended perfectly. Hammerstein wanted to do complete lyrics before music was added, and Rodgers preferred to set completed lyrics to music. In “Oklahoma!,” their songs included “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and the title song.

Success was immediate. The show debuted in 1943 and ran for 2,212 original performances, not counting repeated revivals. Its film adaptation starring Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones was a big hit. And Rodgers and Hammerstein were given a special Pulitzer Prize for their creation in 1943. “Oklahoma!” was definitely the beginning of more than a partnership – R&H had a meshing of talents unlike any in the twentieth century (with the possible exception of Lennon & McCartney).

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