1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein present their first Broadway musical, Oklahoma. The show is set in 1906. In the first act, the hero sings that he wants to take his girl for a ride in a fancy horse-drawn surrey with a fringe on the top.
1955 Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones headline the motion picture version of Oklahoma. My mother buys the soundtrack album, a flat box 7½ inches square containing about a dozen 45-rpm disks. There arent many other records in the house, so I play these songs repeatedly. My mother and grandmother giggle over these lyrics from Pore Jud is Daid:
lookin' oh so purty and so nice.
1957 With great publicity, live and in color from a rather cramped New York studio, CBS telecasts Cinderella, a new Rodgers and Hammerstein musical written especially for television.
1959 On Broadway, Rodgers and Hammerstein premiere their final musical, The Sound of Music. Soon were hearing some of the songs on radio and TV and Im playing them on the piano, in particular Climb Evry Mountain.
1965 My mother and I travel to a Columbus theater for the movie version of The Sound of Music. Not being interested in children, I dont pay much attention to the youngsters in the film, aside from recognizing Angela Cartwright from TVs Danny Thomas Show. I note details like the Bil Baird marionettes (much less expressive than Muppets or even ventriloquist dummies), the gazebo in Sixteen Going on Seventeen, the high camera angle and impressive organ music at the beginning of the wedding scene, and the audience applause when the nuns outwit the Nazis at the end. My mother and I, being Methodists, are slightly uncomfortable with some of the Catholic trappings of the movie, but I notice her sniffling in places.
1999 Oklahoma is filmed again, this time in a London theatre. The star is Hugh Jackman. The audience is present only for the opening and closing scenes, which allows the camera to move onto the stage and get close to the actors.
2013 NBC telecasts The Sound of Music live. Im not watching because Im working on a different live telecast, a basketball game between Pitt and Loyola Marymount. But I record the musical and watch it later. For the first time I hear No Way to Stop It, cut from the 1965 movie, a Hammerstein message song about standing up to unstoppable forces (in this case, Hitler). You may be bent on doing deeds of derring-do, but up against a shark, what can a herring do? As far as the singers go, I agree with most critics that Audra McDonald is superb and Carrie Underwood is adequate. As one puts it, The role of Maria is kind of a dull one and it calls for an actress who can add loads of personality to the dialogue. That does not, alas, describe Ms. Underwood. But viewing the show is a great experience, and it brings back all the memories Ive related above.