Carrie Love as Ado Annie and Daniel Robinson as Will Parker in the national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Oklahoma!'
Oh what a beautiful mornin'" made its debut in 1943 and hasn't stopped making us feel glad to be alive no matter who sings it. This new national tour of Oklahoma!, replete with a dozen memorable songs and bravura dancing from ballet to hoedown, is a redux of the 60th anniversary revival of the most celebrated American musical, recently seen in London and on Broadway. Just in case you've just beamed down from outer planets, it's a love story triangle between farm girl Laurey and rival suitors cowboy Curly and farmhand Jud. It's also a slice of Americana in the ongoing saga of another state carved from American Indian land.
Oct. 6, a company of Delaware Indian actors premiered White River Voices at the Indiana History Center Theater. Annette Ketchum, a direct descendant of Indiana Delaware Chief Anderson, recalled this story originally told by Mary Townsend, about her family in Indian Territory: "Mama said one time there was a Syrian peddler came through there and Grandpa would visit with him and he said, 'You sing in your language and I'll sing to you in Delaware language.' They might stay up all night singing to each other and telling each other about their people. If you're recognizing Oklahoma! the musical, you're right. What you might not connect with is [it's] based on the plot and characters of a folk play by a Cherokee by the name of Lynn Riggs. Theater Guild in New York put on Green Grow the Lilacs in 1931. A dozen years later this same Theater Guild put on Oklahoma!"
So we have the first-hand Hoosier connection to one of the most colorful characters in musical theater - Ali Hakim - and to the musical that forever changed the landscape of American theater.
Oklahoma!, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is being presented as part of the Toyota Broadway in Indianapolis series at Clowes Memorial Hall Dec. 14-19. Tickets are available at Clowes or Murat box offices, Ticketmaster outlets, 239-1000 or www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com