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60th anniversary of Oscar-winning musical is more than OK
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60th anniversary of Oscar-winning musical is more than OK

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It’s been 60 years since “Oklahoma!” premiered on the big screen, captivating audiences with expansive views of “where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”

Actually, those scenes were filmed in Southern Arizona — Elgin, San Raphael Valley, Nogales, Patagonia. And all that corn? Grown by the University of Arizona.

Director Fred Zinnemann selected our state because by the 1950s Oklahoma was too developed to resemble the Oklahoma territory at the turn of the century.

Based on the 1943 stage musical “Oklahoma!,” written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the film featured a 19-year-old Shirley Jones in her screen debut. The musical won an Oscar for “Best Sound, Recording” and “Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture’ and became a film classic. It had also been nominated for “Best Cinematography, Color” and film editing.

To mark the 60th anniversary, Pima County’s Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation department is hosting a community concert in Green Valley on Sunday, Nov. 1 along with several screenings of the film Sunday and Tuesday, Nov. 3 and a proclamation, Nov. 10.

The county is also offering tours of the historic Canoa Ranch, where the county’s Valerie Samoy said the scene featuring Shirley Jones swimming in the lake, and the opening “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” were filmed.

Also Sunday, The Loft Cinema is offering a fully remastered widescreen presentation of “Oklahoma!” The $15 admission includes a bonus featurette before the film, featuring Tony and Emmy Award-winner (and Oklahoma native) Kristin Chenoweth (“Wicked”) performing three of her favorite songs from the show, interspersed with backstory about the history of the film and musical.

Compiled by staff

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