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Web Exclusive: Oscar Hammerstein explains how Rodgers and Hammerstein changed musicals

Oklahoma program cover.jpg
Web Exclusive: Oscar Hammerstein explains how Rodgers and Hammerstein changed musicals (Program cover provided by Oscar Andy Hammerstein)

(KUTV) Oscar Andy Hammerstein's grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein II, was part of the famous duo, Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The pair was behind beloved musicals like "Oklahoma!" "Carousel," "The King and I," and "The Sound of Music."

Rodgers and Hammerstein changed the way musicals were typically done.

"He treated the play that was being adapted with much more reverence than had been treated before," explained Hammerstein. "Most people used the plot as a convenient coat rack to hang sounds and gags on. But in his case, he was very, very devoted to being true to the source material."

Hammerstein gave the example of the musical, "Oklahoma!"

Back then, it was tradition to start a musical with a "high-kicking chorus number."

But the plot in "Oklahoma!" didn't call for that.

Instead, they started out with a simple scene on stage, and a voice singing off stage.

That caused the audience to engage in a brand new way.

"They were making the audience work and the audience was glad of it," said Hammerstein.

Person 2 Person interview

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