Honest Oklahoma Revival Review: Musical Tour Not Like the Original

by Sami

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If you’re expecting the Oklahoma musical tour to be a colorful and cheerful night out, think again. This may be the most honest Oklahoma revival review you’ll find…

honest oklahoma revival review

Honest Oklahoma Revival Review

If you want the bullet-point version of my honest Oklahoma revival review, here you go:

  • The revival takes a dark turn from the original
  • The score stayed the same, though with a more melancholy tone throughout
  • The sound/microphone choices made it hard to hear
  • Some of the scenes were done completely in the dark
  • The one-room set never changed (tables just moved from Act 1 to Act 2)
  • The ending was thought-provoking but heavy

Essentially, I do not think this revival is worth your time or money.

Watch my video review from the night I saw the revival:

The Oklahoma Revival Keeps Original Music & Lyrics

One of the most interesting facts about the Oklahoma revival is that although it seems to be completely reimagined, the original music and lyrics did not change. I found this synopsis from Broadway World said it well:

…dark and haunting, serious and disturbing, funny and moving, but surprisingly, not a single lyric or word of dialogue has been changed. 

– BroadwayWorld.com

While you may recognize the songs, it’s the stylistic choices that will surprise you. Just about everything else seemed to be turned on its head.

Is the Oklahoma Revival Family Friendly?

We had two tween girls sitting next to us during the night we saw the Oklahoma revival and it took everything within me not to ask their parents if they would bring them again.

The show was not raunchy, but there were a LOT of sexual innuendos and jokes throughout. Not to mention the main storyline basically centered around a “will they or won’t they” get together question for two different couples.

There was kissing, but no swearing.

My biggest advice for parents that choose to bring kids would be to prepare them in advance. There will be questions. And because the ending is dramatic and disturbing (and shows typically end late), be prepared to help your kids process some dark themes before they go to bed.

Dark Themes in Oklahoma Broadway Tour

Some of those dark themes in the Oklahoma Broadway tour include class privilege, stalking, and mental illness.

The irony of this is that when we first entered the theater, I commented that it felt lighter and brighter than any production I’ve ever seen.

The set essentially stayed the same throughout the show. The fringe on the top (see what I did there?) came down a little lower in the second act, along with tables and chairs getting moved around a bit.

But don’t let the open airy set fool you. Twice during the musical the set went completely black. Two other times, while the set was dark, a camera projected much-too-close-ups of the actors in night vision on the back wall. Both moments felt awkward, but I imagine that as the intent.

Ironically, at intermission I commented that it felt like a modern, contemporary dance that I didn’t quite understand. Then, guess how the second act started…you guessed it: with a modern, contemporary solo dancer I didn’t quite understand. She was incredibly talented, but it added to the production feeling dark and twisted.

Spoiler Alert: In the end, one of the characters basically offered up a gun for someone to shoot him. The main couple ended up with blood splattered all over their wedding whites, which remained on them through the curtain call.

On a positive note, the cast was multi-racial and inclusive, which was definitely not the case in the original.

Let me pause here to make something clear: just because I don’t enjoy something doesn’t invalidate the art. My only purpose in this is to educate and inform. I wish I knew what I was walking into before I went. For others who are considering going to the show, it’s important to know how you’re choosing to invest your time and resources.

Oklahoma Tour in Nashville

You can see the touring revival of Oklahoma at TPAC in Nashville from May 2-8. I was provided with free tickets to see Oklahoma in exchange for my honest review.

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StephT June 1, 2022 - 8:38 am

Just saw the show last night in Dallas. We were really looking forward to it – didn’t realize it was a “modern interpretation” until several days before. It was dark – like literally dark – and slow…gave me “film noir” vibes. Not only did they make it dark & twisty, but had complete disregard for the original story or place in time. The backdrop is supposed to be 1906 where the two territories are on the verge of becoming the 47th state in the union. None of that was evident by looking at the set, clothing, or props. Ugh. I just wish they didn’t advertise it as “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!” — it may be their dialog/lyrics, but it is by no means the Oklahoma! created by R&H.

Sami June 2, 2022 - 10:19 pm

I agree about how it was mis-advertised.

Araby Ammons May 22, 2022 - 7:09 am

This was literally the WORST Broadway musical I have ever seen and I have had season tickets for the Broadway series in Charleston, SC for the last 22 years. Left at intermission after painfully sitting through the first half! Your review was SPOT ON!

Sami May 30, 2022 - 2:35 pm

I’m sorry you had that experience, but I appreciate your feedback. I tried to post what I did to save people from having the same frustrations I did. Hopefully the next show will be better!

Musika May 9, 2022 - 6:27 pm

My wife and friend said it was the worst performance they had ever seen and only stayed to the end to hear “Oklahoma “. We are veteran TPAC members and have seen dozens of shows on Broadway

Sami May 13, 2022 - 9:05 am

This echoes most people’s sentiments. I’m hoping for a better summer season!

Denise McBride May 9, 2022 - 2:13 pm

This was the worst play that I have seen in years. It was not entertaining at all; it became stressful trying to hear what they were saying and hoping that it would get better. I left at halftime because it became suffering.

Sami May 9, 2022 - 4:54 pm

You definitely weren’t the only one!

Dennis Stewart May 9, 2022 - 11:23 am

This show was a huge disappointment . I was expecting much better after seeing the original version as a child back in the 50’s.

Sami May 9, 2022 - 4:54 pm

Wow! I can only imagine what it was like seeing the original version!

Kevin May 5, 2022 - 9:37 pm

Sadly, I must agree 100% with your assessment. They have essentially destroyed this classic American musical. There are so many bad things to say about it that I won’t bother. It’s only the second broadway musical that my wife and I have walked out of at intermission. We just couldn’t stand watching more of it.

Sami May 7, 2022 - 1:50 pm

I completely understand; I sincerely hoped it would get better, but alas, it didn’t. Curious: what was the other musical you walked out on?

David Loftin May 5, 2022 - 8:31 am

We were also gifted tickets from friends who were unable to go. We agree 100% with your comments, except to add that we found the show lacking in energy. A friend we saw during intermission said that she’d seen better high school musicals..

Sami May 7, 2022 - 1:51 pm

Yes, it was lacking energy, but that also seemed like an artistic choice on some level – it was all melancholy. And I agree, it seemed like a high school production, except that I’ve seen better high school shows!

BOB T May 4, 2022 - 10:55 pm

Ive been seeing shows at TPAC FOR 40 YEARS. and I can honestly say this was the worst show I have ever seen. Poor stage setup. Poor acting. Poor singing. Poor sound.

Sami May 7, 2022 - 1:51 pm

Wow – you certainly have the track record! I’m sorry to have to agree with you on all counts.

Renee Manwaring May 4, 2022 - 12:38 pm

We left at halftime! The whole 15 minutes of darkness for Poor Judd was about enough for us. Your review was spot on. We were by no means the only people that left at the intermission. It sounds like it was a good decision from the rest of your review. Very disappointing! And we did spend money to see this show, times for people. Wish we could get that back! Rogers and Hammerstein would be rolling over in their graves on this one. It was not a good luck for this show!

Sami May 7, 2022 - 1:52 pm

I’m sorry you had to spend money on the tickets. That’s why I did the review – so people at least knew what they were walking into (or so they could be informed before they bought tickets!)

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