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Based on the 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, Oklahoma! made its Broadway debut in March of 1943. It enjoyed immediate success at the box office, and continued with both foreign and domestic tours, as well as a 1955 film adaptation that earned an Academy Award. There have been multiple revivals of the show in the years since, including 1951, 1979, and 2002 on Broadway, and 1980 and 1998 in London’s West End. All of these versions had similar levels of success as the original run did. Of note, the 1998 West End Production starred Hugh Jackman and won several awards, including the Lawrence Oliver Award for Outstanding Musical Production.
Oklahoma! was written by Broadway legends Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Rogers was a successful Broadway composer, whose resume prior to Oklahoma! included Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), and Pal Joey (1940) amongst others. Hammerstein was an established librettist who had written several productions, including Rose-Marie (1924) and Show Boat (1927). He also earned an Academy Award for co-writing the song The Last Time I Saw Paris, which was featured in the 1941 film, Lady Be Good.
Despite their individual successes before teaming up, they are both best known for their work together. Starting with Oklahoma! (1943) the duo went on to establish a legacy that has been referred to as the greatest writing partnership of the 20th century. Their most notable Broadway accomplishments include South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951), and The Sound of Music (1959). The legendary pair’s success was rewarded with thirty-four Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize.
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