Oklahoma! was the first musical written by composer Richard Rogers and lyricist/ librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. A special Pulitzer Prize award was given to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for Oklahoma! in the category of "Special Awards And Citations - Letters" in 1944. The original Broadway production opened in March of 1943. It was a box-office smash and ran for a then unprecedented 2,212 performances, later enjoying award-winning revivals, national tours and an Academy Award-winning 1955 film adaptation. Originally entitled Away We Go, the musical is based on Lynn Rigg's 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farmer girl Laurey Williams. Their love is challenged by Laurey's threatening farmhand, Jud Fry, and much of the play follows the tension generated by this conflict.
This musical, building on the the innovations of the earlier Show Boat, epitomized the development of the "book musical", a musical play where the songs and dances were fully integrated into a well-made story with serious dramatic goals, that was able to evoke genuine emotions other than laughter. In addition, Oklahoma! features musical themes, or motifs, that recur throughout the work to connect the music and story more closely than any musical ever had before.
Curly, a cowboy, is in love with Laurey, a farm girl, but they are too proud and stubborn to show it. There is a rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys over fences and water rights, which leads to tension even in romance. Curly looks forward to the beautiful day ahead ("Oh What A Beautiful Mornin"). The sinister and dark-hearted outsider farm hand, Jud Fry, has also set his sights on Laurey and asks her to a "Box Social" dance. She accepts to spite Curly. Meanwhile, cowboy Will Parker, returning from a trip to the relatively modern Kansas City, is upset that his girlfriend, Ado Annie, "Cain't Say No" to other men.
Laurey sings ("Out of My Dreams") and dances ("Dream Ballet"), dreaming of what marriage to Curly would be like; when the dream takes a nightmarish turn with Jud forcing her to go to the social, she decides to go with him when he actually appears. At the social, the farmers and ranchers make peace ("The Farmer and the Cowman") in a teasing way. Curly outbids Jud in the auction for Laurey's basket at the dance, and Jud furiously threatens Laurey and is fired as a hand at Aunt Eller's farm. Curly comes to Laurey's rescue, admitting his love for her.
Three weeks later, a drunken Jud reappears at Curly and Laurey's wedding. Jud fights with Curly, and Jud falls on his own knife. Will and Ado Annie find a way to come to terms with each other ("All Er Nuthin"). The Territory is celebrated as a State ("Oklahoma!")
"Overture" - Orchestra
"Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" - Curly
"Laurey's Entrance" - Laurey ("Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'")
"The Surrey With the Fringe On Top" - Curly
"The Surrey With the Fringe On Top (Reprise)" - Curly
"Kansas City" - Will, Aunt Eller, Male Ensemble
"I Cain't Say No" - Ado Annie
"Entrance of Ensemble" ("Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" and "I Cain't Say No") - Will, Ado Annie, Curly, Ensemble
"Many a New Day" - Laurey and Female Ensemble
"It's a Scandal! It's a Outrage!" Ali Hakim and Male Ensemble
"People Will Say We're In Love" - Curly and Laurey
"Pore Jud is Daid" Curly and Jud
"Lonely Room" - Jud
"Out of My Dreams" - Laurey and Female Ensemble
"Dream Ballet" - Ensemble
"Entr'acte" - Orchestra
"The Farmer and the Cowman" - Carnes, Aunt Eller, Ike Skidmore, Ensemble
"All Er Nuthin'" - Will and Ado Annie
"People Will Say We're In Love (Reprise)" - Curly and Laurey
"Oklahoma!" - Curly and Ensemble
"Finale Ultimo" ("Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" and "People Will Say We're in Love") - Ensemble
"Exit Music" - Orchestra