Fringe benefits

Country crowd celebrates OK opening

NEW YORK — Nothing is more ridiculous than the Gotham theater crowd trying to “go country,” as it did for the opening night of “Oklahoma!”

Battling freezing temperatures, people piled into Tavern on the Green March 21 in their usual black duds, in a feed-me-quick-before-I-get-surly mood.

Choreographer, Susan Stroman (cornfed-cute in pigtails and bandana) offered to lasso the after-party herd, which included Joan Collins and past “Oklahoma!” stars Celeste Holm, Joan Roberts and Shirley Jones. “If someone got me a bullhorn, I’d straighten it all out, get some better traffic patterns going.”

Stroman gained experience in wranglin’ when she trimmed 25 minutes from the show the week before opening — though no scenes, songs or key lines were cut, she swore.

And who knew this wholesome Rodgers & Hammerstein classic had so much rough stuff in it? Director Trevor Nunn did.

“Although past productions may have tried to hide the dark side of the show,” he said, “every moment refers to some serious situation.”

Now kindly pass that big ol’ plate of red meat.

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