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Ryan Bañagale ’00 Revisits ‘Oklahoma!’ on 75th Anniversary

In an article published 75 years to the day the musical “Oklahoma!” premiered on March 31, 1943, Colorado College Assistant Professor of Music Ryan Raul Bañagale ’00 asks, “Whose America did ‘Oklahoma!’ depict? And is the musical’s vision of the nation relevant today?”

Bañagale’s article, “‘Oklahoma!’ at 75: Has the musical withstood the test of time?,” published in The Conversation, notes that the show, which was an instant hit, was a reprieve for audiences immersed in the day-to-day anxieties of World War II. “It’s the sort of all-American story that connects audiences to our collective past – one of the same appeals that has made ‘Hamilton’ a huge success today,” he says.

But on the 75th anniversary of “Oklahoma!,” Bañagale, a scholar of American music who offers classes on a range of topics, including musical theatre, jazz, popular music, folk music, and media studies, notes that audiences of 2018 are more culturally sophisticated, and explores whether the musical — a favorite of high school drama teachers — resonates in today’s America as it once did.