(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/20; via Pam Green.)
There was blood on the floor as usual, and on the costumes, too, when “Oklahoma!” finished its Broadway run on Sunday night at the Circle in the Square Theater. During the long, raucous curtain call, Patrick Vaill’s white shirt was sodden with red as the director, Daniel Fish, pulled him in for a hug.
Vaill, 34, was a 21-year-old undergraduate when Fish first cast him as the farmhand Jud Fry in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” at Bard College in 2007. Eight years later, when Fish morphed that show into a professional production for Bard SummerScape, Vaill got the part again, and kept it for the 2018 version at St. Ann’s Warehouse that would transfer to Broadway last spring and win the Tony Award for best musical revival. (His sassy Twitter feed captures some of the accompanying glamour, which included a trip to the Met Gala.)
In Fish’s contemporary staging, which plunged two scenes into near-total darkness, Vaill imbued Jud with extraordinary vulnerability, playing him as a sympathetic odd man out who loves the heroine, Laurey, but stands no chance against the hero, Curly.
Not long after his final bow, Vaill took a seat in the theater to talk about Jud, and defend him. Here are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Photo: Krista Schlueter for The New York Times