Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The curtain falls

After 3 months of Sunday chorus practices, and 3 weeks of 5-night-a-week stage rehearsals, the heavy red stage curtain finally rose and fell for the last time on our small town's Centennial sponsored production of "Oklahoma," featuring C as a young pioneer girl-dancer-chorus singer.

Since the two evening performances to roughly 1/4 the population of our small town (considered a "fantastic turnout" by the locals), both of the girls walk around the house humming and singing various songs from the musical. It beats the SpongeBob theme song.

As a reward (of sorts), a quick search of half.com revealed a DVD of the London Royal National Theatre's 1999 version of Oklahoma, starring Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, as the Cowboy Curly. A few e-mad ducats and 3-5 mailing days later, C was enjoying critiquing several aspects of the Brit's version of the play - as compared to "her" stage version and to the 1955 Hollywood Todd-AO movie DVD version she's been watching 2-3 times a day.

From what I can gather, this version of the stage play was a huge hit in London, drawing pound waving cheers and bangers n' mash reviews, both.

As an American, it stirs me a little to think of a bunch of stuffy Brits humming "O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A..." to themselves as they left the theater and headed for the nearest Underground station. Yet at the same time, I feel sorry for them at having missed out (by no fault of their own) on what I consider to be the quintessentially ultimate method for experiencing the Roger's and Hammerstein classic...

Watching an all Oklahoman cast, performing "Oklahoma" in a small Oklahoman town with an audience made up entirely of Oklahoman's.

I'd done it once before, but that was before I myself could be counted (at least in the eyes of the Census Bureau) as an Okie.

But this time, for both the Friday and Saturday night performances, I felt something stirring deep down in the pit of my being where very few emotions can survive that aren't raw and unfiltered.

The same pit where my loyalty for UCLA lives, even before I went to Graduate school there.

The same pit when I realized that I was indeed a born-and-bred American, when I visited the land of my ancestors and felt like a total foreigner -- and that's a good thing.

The same pit where I find myself cheering for an Olympic athlete who is a complete stranger and who may be a total jerk, but as long as he/she is representing my countries flag, they re my hero, and better kick some major Gold Medal butt, by gosh-o-golly.

It was in that same pit where I found myself smiling, and waving, and cheering for my chorus girl daughter, as I and 500 of my fellow small Oklahoman town's folk stood, and clapped, and sang our hearts out....

You know we belong to the land,
and the land we belong to is grand...

Do yourself a favor and add the following item to your list of things to do before you die...
See Oklahoma performed by Oklahoman's, in Oklahoma with an audience full of Okie's.


Anonymous said...

You've got it! We too were a part of this. I've never been interested in being part of a play before but this was "Oklahoma." I've been singing it since birth, listening to my father and mother. Okies have to be a part of "Oklahoma," especially since it's the centennial.

Anonymous said...

I have had that same experience years ago in Lone Grove OK. I got tears in my ears reading your post. Thanks!

Darren said...

Sounds like it was great...especially the full Oklahoma experience.

I think that London production played at Lincoln Center too. Brits, by the way, would probably cringe at some US productions of My Fair Lady.

OKDad said...

Hah...now that I'd like to see -- our local stage players take on a down home Okie version of My Fair Lady.

Along that same thought....wonder what the Japanese audiences thought of Puccini's Madame Butterfly when viewed for the first time?