Oklahoma!: Always New, Forever Young

by John Birge, Minnesota Public Radio
August 18, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — "It is a radiant summer morning several years ago, the kind of a morning which enveloping the shapes of earth, men, cattle in a meadow, blades of young corn, streams—makes them seem to exist now for the first time, their images giving off a golden emanation that is partly true and partly a trick of the imagination, focusing to keep alive a loveliness that may pass away."

That's the first stage direction in the musical Oklahoma!, setting the scene for the first song "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin." It seems like that classic song, and this iconic musical, have been around forever. But Bloomington Civic Theatre has a cast of gifted actors and musicians who are young enough to be performing Oklahoma! for the very first time.

Director Gary Gisselman and Music Director Anita Ruth are harnessing that youthful energy to make this production of Oklahoma! burst with enthusiasm—to make it "seem to exist now for the first time." It's also a way for Gisselman to harness his youthful energy, because his first directing job was at Bloomington Civic Theatre back in 1964! And before that, he spent his childhood picking strawberries on his family's farm only blocks from where he's directing Oklahoma! now! Classical MPR's John Birge spent a beautiful morning with Gary Gisselman, Anita Ruth, and two young singers from BCT's Oklahoma!

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