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  • Writer's pictureAnn Marie Coolick

Oklahoma! at the Museum of Broadway

Back in the spring of 2021 I started collaborating with the Museum of Broadway for an installation inspired by the 1943 musical Oklahoma! for their new museum in the heart of Times Square. The founders Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti had a vision for a room you could walk through and feel like you were on the set of the show, as if you were walking through the cornfield on Aunt Eller's farm just like in the song "Oh What a Beautiful Morning!". This would be in the Gamechangers section of the museum, as Oklahoma! was the first hit show to bring "serious" dance into the theater.

I began with a few rounds of sketches and paintings to explore the movement and details of the cornstalks.

I then utilized my sketches to paint two horizontal pieces incorporating the landscape from the set of Aunt Eller's farm with the Oklahoma mountains in the background. These paintings would be blown up onto the walls of the museum and used as a backdrop for my super thick paint applications which I would paint on-site. The goal was to cover the walls in thick paint details and have the viewer walk through a faux cornfield to experience the landscape up-close.

I used pounds and pounds of paint using only palette knives on the actual walls to bring the whole piece to life. The installation was then completed with a barn, costumes, photos from the musical, and a walk-through cornfield with life-like cornstalks created by Square Design Inc of Brooklyn.

As an artist I was enchanted by the craftsmanship and creative touches throughout the museum, including intricate paper sculptures made from Showboat playbills by Rachel Marks, feathered walls in the Ziegfeld Follies room, an up-close look at the costumes from Hamilton, an eery room complete with the monstrous Phantom costume, and even the original Annie dress. Delightful, playful, and well-thought out, this museum is a joy for the senses.

The Museum of Broadway is now open to the public and you can get your timed tickets here!

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