Indeed, it could be argued that 1943 was a watershed year not only for Richard Rodgers, but for Broadway too. Certainly, fully-integrated, serious musical theatre had been attempted--and had often succeeded magnificently--before Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! opened at The St. James Theatre on March 31, 1943. And musical comedy has continued to thrive along the Great White Way well after Rodgers & Hart's November 1943 revival of A Connecticut Yankee closed. Yet there is no doubt that what Rodgers had created with Hammerstein marked the beginning of something new--what historians now often refer to as the Golden Age of Musical Theatre--and that Rodgers' last hurrah with Hart could be seen as the symbolic end of what we like to call the Golden Age of Musical Comedy...an age that cared much more for word-play than the dramatic situation, that preferred a sophisticated witticism and shunned profundity like the plague. Two different ages of an art form that each reflected, perhaps, the unique spirit of their respective times.
So in the spirit of our theme, "Time After Time", we thought to celebrate Richard Rodgers' 1943 with all-new productions of both musicals: the light-hearted Rodgers & Hart comedy A Connecticut Yankee and Rodgers & Hammerstein's ground-breaking drama Oklahoma!. Two stunningly good, yet very different properties representing two very different "times" in the history of the musical and of America more generally.
This year, fulfilling a long-standing dream, we've mounted A Connecticut Yankee at The Shedd's Jaqua Concert Hall, which we believe to be, in size and intimacy, ideally suited to the musical comedy form. Oklahoma! we offer at the Hult Center's Silva Concert Hall, which in like manner is well-suited to the larger-scale musical theatre of the 1940s and '50s. We hope you can join us for both!