'Oklahoma!' original TV series set in present day in the works
The golden age musical "Oklahoma!" is coming to the new golden age of television.
Skydance Television announced today that it has partnered with the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and Concord to develop an original television series inspired by the Broadway musical that gave us the best state song of them all.
According to Variety, the series will be set in the present day in America’s heartland and include music by the legendary duo Rodgers & Hammerstein, reimagined for a modern audience, as well as new music to support the story. The show is written by John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) and Bekah Brunstetter (“This is Us,” “American Gods”).
“'Oklahoma!’s' artistically revolutionary position in American culture has both kept it at the forefront of theatrical performances and allowed for various new innovations. This first-time ever television series will expand on the life of this remarkably resilient show,” said Ted Chapin, the chief creative officer of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, which was acquired by Concord in 2017.
Hancock also will direct the first episode and serve as executive producer of the series, along with Brunstetter and fellow executive producers Chapin, Sophia Dilley of Concord, and David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross of Skydance Television. Bill Bost, the senior vice president of television, will oversee the project for Skydance, according to the trade publication.
Perhaps best known for writing and directing the fact-based football drama "The Blind Side," for which Sandra Bullock won an Oscar, Hancock recently directed the “The Highwaymen,” featuring Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner, which opened in theaters and debuted on Netflix in March. Brunstetter’s previous television credits include “This is Us,” “American Gods,” and "Switched at Birth," and she is also a playwright, penning projects such as “The Oregon Trail” and “The Cake.”
“Oklahoma!” was the first musical written by the now-legendary team of composer Richard Rodgers and librettist and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Adapted from Oklahoma native Lynn Riggs' 1931 play "Green Grow the Lilacs," the musical is set in farm country outside the town of Claremore, Indian Territory, in 1906, and tells the story of a farm girl named Laurey and her courtship by two rival suitors, Curly and Jud. The original Broadway production opened in 1943 and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning 1955 film.
The musical celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2018. Following a 2015 workshop at Bard College in New York and a 2018 run at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse, Daniel Fish's innovative new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic officially opened on Broadway earlier this month. The musical's fifth Broadway run has been described as a darker, deconstructed version of "Oklahoma!" that exposes more of the sexuality and violence inherent in the story, swaps the original score's brassy sound for a seven-piece country band, and offers an immersive experience that includes chili and cornbread served to the audience at intermission.