Original London Cast

Oklahoma! [Original London Cast]

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When Oklahoma! opened in London at West End's Drury Lane Theatre Royal on April 29, 1947, four years after it had begun on Broadway, starring Howard Keel (then known as Harold Keel) and Betty Jane Watson (both of whom had been replacements on Broadway), it became almost as much of a hit as it had been in New York, running 1,543 performances. But postwar Great Britain was not yet ready to support full-length cast albums, and Keel and Watson, along with other members of the cast, recorded medleys of the show songs released on a double EP in the U.K. Those recordings have turned up now and then in the U.S. since, usually combined with similar medleys from other London productions of American musicals. (For example, Angel 52657 combines them with Carousel and South Pacific.) In the early '70s, Rod McKuen's Stanyan Records abridged them to fit on one side of an LP with a similarly reduced Annie Get Your Gun on the other side (Stanyan SR-10069). This budget-priced 1995 release takes that cut-down version of the Oklahoma! medleys and tacks on four Dinah Shore performances of other Rodgers & Hammerstein compositions, but the total still runs only 26 and a half minutes. You wouldn't know by looking at the back cover, however, that the songs, which have been given their own numbers even though they're arranged in medleys, sometimes last less than a minute each. This album is cheap, but you get what you pay for. Theater music buffs will welcome the chance to hear Keel and Watson's version of the score, but this is hardly an essential purchase even for them.

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