September 20 — November 6, 2011
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
Original dances by Agnes de Mille
Directed by Chris Coleman

“Things are changing. The country is changing. Gotta change with it.” —Curly

Those words express familiar sentiments often heard these days, but are spoken in this case not by a politician of 2011, but by Curly, the cowboy who takes the notion of change and wrestles it to the ground in Oklahoma! Part charming love story, part stirring retelling of American history, and many parts beloved songs and stunning dance, Oklahoma! was the first collaboration by the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and was a milestone in the development of American musical theater for its fusion of song, story and dance. We are giving this boisterous favorite a new spin: in the 19th century Oklahoma Territory, there were over 50 all African-American towns; in that same period, one in three American cowboys was black. Chris Coleman’s production will feature an all African-American cast, generating fresh insights into a classic American tale.

Performance times:
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon

A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the Buy Tickets section of the website.

Oklahoma! runs approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

View the Cast and Creative Team Bios

Playbill for Oklahoma!

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Reviews and Features

Marty Hughley | The Oregonian [Review 29 Sep 2011]

According to the book “The Hammersteins: a Musical Theatre Family,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II included an exclamation point in the title of their 1943 musical “Oklahoma!” as a subtle way to distance it from the grim associations the word had taken on a few years earlier because of “The Grapes of Wrath.”

The Portland Center Stage production that opened Friday night confirmed it yet again: Spelling “Oklahoma!” without that suggestion of exultation just wouldn’t be right.

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Barry Johnson | Oregon Arts Watch [Review 29 Sep 2011]

I do a strange little dance around revivals. I’m usually quite certain that I’m not interested in the revivals of major stage musicals when they are announced. But then I see them, and I realize that I was wrong. I don’t remember them very well it turns out, and I have the “wrong” idea about them, because when I saw the first time, everything was different: I was different, the times were different, the production was different.

So let it be with Portland Center Stage’s “Oklahoma!”. When I first heard about it, I stifled a mental yawn. Really? “Oklahoma!”? Why? Jolly artificial cowboys courtin’ and sparkin’? Surely, I would have better things to do.

But then I learned that Center Stage artistic director Chris Coleman was setting it in an African-American town in the Oklahoma Territory, and that piqued my interest a little bit. The history of the West rarely acknowledges the contributions, the lives, of African Americans, and Oklahoma had lots of all-Black towns. That was more interesting to me than Trevor Nunn’s beautiful technicolor 1999 revival, even with the excellent Hugh Jackman as Curly.

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Christi Krug | Kindling [Review 29 Sep 2011]

All American boy, all American girl, all American town. What comes to mind? I love what Portland Center Stage director Chris Coleman has done with “Oklahoma!” blasting old tropes by setting this musical in a historical all-Black town, showcasing the all-Americanness of these first Oklahomans.

What a cast! Rodney Hicks as Curly has a rich, warm, vibrant voice that could melt butter on cornbread. Brianna Horne with her big-eyed, long-faced beauty is a tough and tender Laurey, country bumpkin and princess at once. And who wouldn’t be charmed by Marisha Wallace’s Ado Annie, ditzy and adorable, singing her heart out?

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Ben Waterhouse | Willamette Week [Review 28 Sep 2011]

What kind of protagonist goes around suggesting people commit suicide? What kind of love story ends in a murder trial? For a regular fixture of high-school stages, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration is a pretty bleak show. Its nominal hero, Curly, is a bully, and its female lead, Laurey, is a snob. Its big dance sequence is all menace. Its moral is that looking at dirty pictures leads to murder. Given the evidence—“Poor Jud Is Dead,” the climactic flesh-auction and the townsfolk’s blissful dismissal of Jud’s death—one gets the impression that Oklahoma is not OK.

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Ron Hockman | CultureMob [Review 26 Sep 2011]

The source of that “bright golden haze” emanating from the Gerding Theater, illuminating the Portland skyline, is the marvelous Portland Center Stage production of Oklahoma! PCS promised theater-goers a “boot-stompin’ good time!” and they more than live up to their promise. Classic songs, exuberant dancing, eye-popping sets, and a talented, gifted cast make this Oklahoma! more than OK—it is downright rollicking good old-fashioned fun. And it’s a love story to boot.

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Media

Art and photos for Oklahoma! View on Flickr »

Trailer for Oklahoma! View on Vimeo »



Resource Guide

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Production blog

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I recently had an interesting conversation with my grandfather about PCS’ current production of Oklahoma!. In addition to finding out that he saw the original cast of Oklahoma! in 1943, I discovered that my great-great-uncle, Tom Drake, starred as Richard Rodgers in 1948’s Words and Music, a biographical film based on the creative partnership between Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart! A bit of exploring was warranted.

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