Cast/Crew memories of Oklahoma!


On this page, you will find memories from the cast and crew of the first experience they had of this classic show.
Anyone is welcome to add a memory, either of when you yourself appeared in the show, or saw a memorable production.
Guests can click EDIT above and type in their name, job for the show, memories, then SAVE.

We are also holding a contest for memories from anyone not currently involved in the show.

TEVIOT (DREAM CURLY, ADO ANNIE) Two productions actually! First, when I was 13, a wonderful tiny little dynamo of a choreographer and dancer who'd played burlesque -- Coby Johnston -- cast me as a dancer because I studied ballet intensively then. I was thrilled because my dance teacher in Seattle, Irene Larssen, had played Dream Laurey in the film. By this time, we were back on the East Coast and the production was for summer stock at the old red barn, The Sharon Playhouse in Connecticut. I got a leading role -- of "Dream Curly." Great choreography and costumes -- and I got to be dressed as a man with a bandanna around my chin (also got to dance in toe shoes with parasols in other scenes). Opening night, I jumped high into the air in a flying V split and rrrriiippp, the crotch ripped out of my pants! They heard it in the last seat of the last row! Next day, my mother sewed a sock into the crotch so it would flex. Years later, after grad school in Hawaii, I got a job as Entertainment Director for the Pacific Island Club on Guam doing shows using the "Clubmates" sports staff for Japanese tourists. To our repertory of lipsynched "Broadway Musicales" with pieces like "Westo Sideo Monogatari Wa," I added "OKRAHOMA." We danced up a storm and lipsynched our way thru highlights of the show, ending with a big finale where each of the eight performers whipped out a handkerchief with a letter on it spelling across the stage, "O - K - L - A - H - O - M - A." Then throwing them into the air, "OK!" Which worked well except on those nights when someone was sick and I had to hold up two letters: "OKALHOMA." OK! Thanks for the memories!


YINING (DRAMATURG)

Yay! I'm first.
My first ever memory of Oklahoma! was when I was a child watching Sesame Street. One of sketches starred Forgetful Jones and Kermit the Frog who were trying to film the title song of the show. In typical Sesame Street form, they used the title of the song as a way to teach vowels. To this day, my dad and I still quote this song and it is his instant reaction to anything I say when talking about this show. Luckily for me, and for you, the clip is on YouTube. So, here it is for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Forgetful Jones' Oklahoma

LURANA (DIRECTOR)
My first memory, besides probably watching the movie, was in 1981, seeing my boyfriend Joe Maurin play the role of Ali Hakim in the Cabrini High School production in New Orleans. Cabrini was an all girls Catholic school, so they needed to recruit boys, and Joe had a sister in the school and lived right next door to it, so he was an obvious choice. We had just started dating, so I was amazed to see him in such a showy, confident role. He was a hit! I also developed a wee crush on the girl who played Laurey.

DONUT (ANDREW CARNES)
My first memory, while indirect, was reading a Frank De Lima book back in elementary. He did many parodies on famous songs, one of those being the headlining number of the show, "Oklahoma." He put a spin on it as such that it was "Okinawa," parodying the stereotypical hairiness of Okinawans. I heard it and would always sing it like that, not knowing what it was based on nor that I'd be in the very production itself. A less exciting albeit more accurate "first memory" of Oklahoma was hearing "Surrey With a Fringe on Top" in the movie, "When Harry Met Sally."

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan belting out "Surrey With a Fringe on Top"

K (LAUREY)
I'm afraid that my first memory of "Oklahoma" isn't a pleasant one. I was in my sophomore year at Boise State and I had just gotten all of my wisdom teeth taken out during spring break. Since I had nothing to do for the entire week, my mom rented out almost the entire musical theatre section at Blockbuster and brought them home for me to watch, including "Oklahoma". I remember holding an ice pack to my face and sipping on a milkshake (since I couldn't eat solid food) while watching it, all the while hating every second of my life. As a result, I associated negative connotations to "Oklahoma" until I got cast in this wonderful show.

LANI (STAGE MANAGER)
My first experience with this show, like so many others, was with the 1955 film. As a child I was a dancer, so I was really taken with the choreography and music. This quickly became my favorite musical, and nothing has surpassed it. Our UH production is my first experience with the live show and I am loving every minute. My favorite memory is of Hugh Jackman playing Curly in the 1999 TV movie. It is rare to see an actor bring so much joy to a role and it makes me smile to watch.

Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma

TRISTAN (SLIM)
The first memory I have related to this show was a sketch on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion." It was about advertising a set of songs being covered by Bob Dylan. One of the tunes the voice actor impersonating Dylan sang was the title number of our show. I hadn't heard the song before, and I had barely knew who Bob Dylan was, but the sound was so ridiculous I still laughed. Years later I watched a tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein on PBS featuring some of the finest Broadway voices to ever perform their songs. The finale to the show was having all the soloists perform the song "Oklahoma!" as an ensemble. Needless to say, it sounded a lot better than a Bob Dylan impersonator.

JULIANA ( WOMEN'S CHORUS)
One day my mom turned on the television at the part of Oklahoma where Aunt Eller pulls out the gun in Farmer and the Cowman. Later, in about the 6th grade I was auditioning for a musical and heard Surrey With the Fringe on Top on my dad's CD. I didn't understand that this probably wasn't the best choice of an audition song for a young girl to sing, I just liked it because it was low and I didn't know how to use my voice!
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JOE DODD (PROFESSOR OF SCENIC DESIGN)
I was an MFA design student at UH from 1974-77, with a graduate assistantship working in the scene shop. During the build of Oklahoma, me and two other MFA design student GA's were assigned the task of spattering the backdrop for the show after receiving specific instructions and tips from the faculty scenic designer and our design mentor, Prof. Richard Mason. For some reason Dick wasn't going to be around to see us through, so we worked on the drop all afternoon, unsupervised, and at the days end, were quite pleased with our work. We found out later that Dick had come back after dinner and repainted the whole thing - so much for building our confidence.

MEG (PROPS DESIGN)

I must've been 6 or 7. I went to a little community college production with my family. Even as a teeny kid when everything looks big, I was kind of taken aback at how puny and cramped the stage was, but that was because they built the front porch of the ranch house AND the smokehouse AND Skidmore's all on the stage with as much realistic detail and tchotchke as they possibly could have, and then added a full chorus of dancers who just kind of tried not to rub & bump up against each other. For his big opening, Curly strode out singing with a real, live horse in tow on a bridle, and spent half of his energy trying to weave the poor thing between the set pieces. I spent half of my energy wondering why they then kept the horse inside the farm house for the rest of the show. With hindsight, I assume sightlines and limited wingspace had something to do with it.


BRITTNI (ADO ANNIE)

When I was a sophomore in high school, my chorus performed a concert consisting solely of songs from famous musicals. My teacher requested that I sing the People Will Say We're In Love duet with a fellow student, but (while we were very excited to be featured in the concert) neither of us were familiar with the song. Upon learning this information, our teacher pretty much freaked out, and insisted that the entire class familiarize themselves with the classic that is Oklahoma. We spent two class periods watching the movie, and then a few more discussing its importance in the history of musical theatre. Honestly, I don't remember a ton about my reaction to the show-- but I do remember thinking that Ado Annie was, without a doubt, my favorite character, and wishing that my teacher had assigned me one of her songs for the concert instead. Looks like I'll have the chance to sing all of them after all! :-)

JOY (WOMEN'S CHORUS)
When I was around 7, I was reading a book on the states. Every time I would get to Oklahoma, my dad would start singing the titular song from the musical. Later on, when I was around 10, I learned a song to help memorize the state names and their capitals. Again, my dad started singing when I reached Oklahoma. I honestly never figured out exactly where he got that song from until I watched the movie this past summer. And now that I'm actually in it, I'm going to be hearing (and singing) it a lot more.

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