In talking about what makes a team of songwriters successful, or a team at your organization successful, it’s instructive to view the example of the hugely influential collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein. This unit changed Broadway into a worldwide word and destination and idea.
In this entry we’re specifically discussing the hit musical Oklahoma!
What made Rodgers and Hammerstein stand out were the risks they took together to write a play that they believed was truly meaningful. It was unheard of at the time to have an opening number without colorful costumes, celebratory dancing, magnificent music, and of course chorus girls. Yet Oklahoma! opened with a single baritone singer and a woman churning butter (and the chorus girls didn’t even enter until half way through the first act).
INNOVATION – Their willingness to risk altering long-standing traditions was a testimony to their cohesion and defined their extraordinary friendship. Rodgers recalled his relationship with Hammerstein right from this opening piece, saying:
The paramount thing is what we gave each other creatively. The very first lyric that Oscar finished was ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’,’ and when he handed it to me and I read it for the first time I was a little sick with joy because it was so lovely and so right. When you’re given lines like ‘The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,’ you get something to say musically.
And the rest as they say…is history.