Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Who Knew Rogers and Hammerstein Could Be So Risque?

So, a few weeks back we saw a production of Oklahoma! and I mentioned that I was going to blog about it in more detail.

I enjoyed the show, but it was quite a bit different from the Rogers and Hammerstein classic I grew up watching via VHS tapes throughout my childhood. It was also different from my high school's production.

To be blunt, this rendition was a little too scandalous for my tastes. Here is the thing: I have nothing against a scandalous play or movie or TV show, if that was the original intent. For example, I think the storyline in Rent is very compelling. Drug use, and homosexuality, and the AIDS crisis, and friendship, and measuring a life in love? It's intriguing, no? I am a huge fan of Grease and Grease 2 and y'all, the older I get the more overtly sexual those two are. I've watched some trash on TV and I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed either.

But this? This was unfortunate in my opinion. For one thing, there were more than a handful of young children there and had she been old enough, I know we would have bought Ann Peyton a ticket and made a special night of taking her to something I remembered as being an innocent (though at times, scary) love story.

But beyond just that, I felt like it was just unnecessary. In the musicals I mentioned above, a certain sexuality is kind of integral to the plot. Not so with Oklahoma. I felt like they put in scandalous dance numbers and made one character (who happens to be my favorite) into basically a sleeze. I always felt that Ado Annie was a huge tease and a little bit promiscuous in a naive sort of way where she just didn't know any better. In much the same way I was in my teenage years. Which is why I guess I found her sort of relatable as a character. But, I never saw her as a full blow slut. Which is, I hate to say, exactly what she was portrayed to be in this adaptation. I mean in one part she left the stage with the back of her dress tucked into her pantaloons! Like I said, I really couldn't find any real reason for such a portrayal.

Except for the culture. I guess it "works" to write things into a beloved play to appeal to the modern day audience and make it a little more relevant and relatable? It's kind of a pisser, though, because the whole reason I love the play (and other R&H masterpieces) is because of their simplicity and their portrayal of a different, perhaps better, time. Sure, in those great films, people were scared when the farm hand tried to stab them, or you know that their Nazi youth boyfriend was going to blow their head off along with their eight other family members, but they weren't worried about getting knocked up or getting an STD because they were hanging onto their virginity pretty tightly.

I just hate when beautiful things from my childhood get corrupted, you know?

1 comment:

Amy said...

The Grease references cracked me up! I feel a little bit like Phoebe from Friends when she found out her mom never showed her the end of sad movies, because she didn't want to upset her.....
my mom used to fast forward through the "makeout scene" (putting it nicely) between Rizzo and Kinicky (sp?) and we were so naive we had no idea - she told us the tape was messed up - ha! When I was in HIGH SCHOOL and watched it, I realized what she had done and I was shocked - haha! :)