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Joe Cudia and Ashley Brown in "Oklahoma!" Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera.

It was the only Western we ever really loved: Oklahoma!, the Broadway classic with its fringed surreys, farm girls who can?t say no and an ode to a beautiful mornin?.  

The Lyric Opera?s 16-performance production debuts this weekend, and it?s a lavish vision of Americana. If last year?s sellout run of the similarly splashy Show Boat is any indication, now is the time to snap up seats. (May 4 to 19; tickets $32 to $153)

Look for a full 37-piece orchestra; choreography that?s been restored to the original after decades of being watered down; fresh, homespun costumes with plenty of gingham checks and swingy petticoats; and gorgeous digitally printed sets inspired by the art of such greats as Grant Wood (American Gothic).

Our Broadway girl crush, Ashley Brown--famous for her turn as Mary Poppins--will play Laurey Williams, the independent young woman who?s too stubborn to say yes to Curly McLain (Phantom of the Opera alum John Cudia).

Oklahoma! turns 70 this year, and its Lyric staging marks the first of five Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals the company will present through its American Musical Theater Initiative. The Sound of Music is up next; we?re already humming ?Do-Re-Mi? as we mark our 2014 culture calendars.

Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr.; 312-332-2244 or

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