Bitchy Theater Critic, Rex Reed, Reads Broadway’s “Oklahoma!” Revival To Filth

The new staging been stripped down to a minimalist production with just a seven-piece bluegrass band instead of an orchestra and, OMG, Rex Reed absolutely HATED IT! The legendary critic is now 80, so he’s got the cranky old man thing happening naturally, and BOY did he shade the recent revival of Oklahoma! currently on Broadway. Here are a few choice excerpts from his scathing review…

“For reasons that make no sense whatsoever, the landmark 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein production that marked the beginning of a new era in American musicals has now been cheapened and vulgarized at New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre in a ‘modernized’ version designed to appeal to kids who have never heard of Oklahoma! and ignorant ticket buyers who hate musicals…”

He blasted what there was of the set…

“And so the lights go up … to reveal a set consisting of eight tables replete with Fiestaware you can buy at Bloomingdale’s and 16 crock pots you can order online. For the next 2 hours and 45 minutes, everything that can go wrong in a lunkheaded, misguided musical actually manages to do so.”

And the singing, and the direction…

“There is evidence that the cast can sing, but everything has been done by director Daniel Fish to disguise the fact. The trend to deprive songs of their deserved appreciation is evident throughout…”

AND the dancing…

“Instead of the historic Agnes de Mille dream ballet that distinguished the original 1943 Oklahoma! and remains an integral part of every revival, we now get a half-naked girl with a shaved head prancing from one end of the stage to the other, imitating a horse while cowboy boots drop from the ceiling with noisy, clumsy thuds. Maybe that was really the sound of Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers thrashing around in shock from their graves.”

And don’t bother to eat dinner before the show –the audience is fed at halftime…

“During intermission, the audience is served chili and corn bread. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization should be ashamed for giving permission to produce this gimmicky travesty. Its namesakes were catapulted to eternal prominence by Oklahoma! and they didn’t need corn bread.”

Old man mic drop. This is the kind of cranky “kids, get off my lawn” review that to me might be more entertaining (and is certainly cheaper) than this show.

(Photo, Little Fang; via The Observer)

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