‘Oklahoma!’ at 75: Has the musical withstood the test of time?

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Ryan Raul Bañagale, Colorado College

(THE CONVERSATION) Musicals have long depicted utopian worlds, offering an escape for audiences, if only for a few hours. When Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” premiered in March 1943, the musical was a perfect reprieve for audiences immersed in the day-to-day anxieties of World War II.

It offers a classic narrative: Two men, cowboy Curly McLain and farmhand Jud Fry, fight for the affections of one woman, farm girl Laurey Williams. This love triangle is played out against the backdrop of westward expansion at the outset of the 20th century. In the end, Curly prevails, and the musical closes…

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