The mise en scène has a magnificent reserve that remembers Tony Richardson’s dissolves in The Entertainer and emulates them as camerawork by way of a selah to the music of the play.
This is the first-class second-rate out-of-town production that was so successful in the West End some said Trevor Nunn was selling out. Broadway gave a Tony award to the only American in the cast (Jud, the villain) but didn’t care much for the rest of it. Now, there has been an American production of Stoppard’s Arcadia that was a damn sight worse. One wonders if New Yorkers realized these actors are British, don’t you know.
Time was when your first-class English actor played a Yank by enunciating his R’s, but these folks really pass muster, and one couldn’t be more impressed if Michael and Michel Lonsdale were one and the same person. The millennium had all but come to the National Theatre when Nunn put his cameras onstage to give you an idea of it beside the Thames (or the Hudson). They act and sing and dance ballets. Much of the drama is conveyed by the set and lighting. These cowpokes and sodbusters sing about surreys and Kansas City out in the middle of nowhere. They put up a schoolhouse and get pretty wise to themselves. You’re left in no doubt about Rodgers & Hammerstein, English stage management, and the Great State of Oklahoma.