Monday, November 15, 2010


Well, now I can mark a classic off the list -- I've seen SOUTH PACIFIC in person.  I posted an entry about this show when the revival was aired on a PBS "Live from Lincoln Center" broadcast here.  Since this will be a second viewing, I guess I'll just hit the highlights, shall I?

As the "About" section on this blog suggests, thanks to my wonderful parents, classical music is really my first love, so the fact that this show is traveling with a big-ass 26 piece orchestra -- yay!  There really is some absolutely beautiful music in this show, and a gorgeous overture.  I wet my pants a little.  Sadly, some seated around me still don't realize that the overture is part of the show, which annoys me.  I may have to post a whole separate entry about that soon…

From what I've read, this show (that debuted in 1949) did its part in addressing some major social issues for its time.  Set in the South Pacific during WWI, we have a Navy Nurse, Nellie Forbush, and an Officer, Lt. Cable, who find themselves falling for people of a different race.  I did notice this time around how all of the black "seabees" were always huddled together, away from the white officers.

Carmen Cusack (Ensign Nellie Forbush).
Photo by Peter Coombs
Anyway, I couldn't help but be a little more critical this time around.  It seems like there was a rush to squeeze all this music into the second act.  I mean, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" followed by "I'm In Love With a Wonderful Guy"?  Well, whatever -- women can be kinda fickle.  But that's okay.  Near the end of the second act is the moment I was looking forward to the most -- again, I blogged about it in my PBS post.  I don't care how many people don't care for the "Honey Bun" reprise.  I thought it was haunting, and I got chills.

“There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” – Photo by Peter Coombs
The performances were top-notch.  I think the last time I saw Carmen Cusack (Nellie Forbush), she was green and engulfed in smoke on a cherry picker singing about defying gravity.  But she won me over (again) with that southern accent as a Little Rock hick (my home town) who is forced to face her passed down prejudices.  She was great, as was David Pittsinger as Emile de Becque, the plantation owner she falls in love with.  I thought he read a little old in the publicity photo, but he plays younger in person, and has an absolutely dreamy voice.  I thought Anderson Davis as Lt. Cable was much more likeable than his counter-part in the PBS broadcast, and he's kinda hot to boot.  The entire ensemble was strong, and the "theatre canon" numbers that this show yields, including "Bali Ha'i", "I'm gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair", "Some Enchanted Evening", "There is Nothing Like a Dame" and "Happy Talk" were fantastic.

David Pittsinger (Emile de Becque).
Photo by Joan Marcus
If you have the time, check it out.  Like I've said before in my previous post, I thought I would be kinda bored with this show, but with so many classic Broadway tunes coming your way, I couldn't help but be grateful that I was seeing this production with such a fine cast, staging and direction.  

Go see some Rodgers and Hammerstein!


Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan, adapted from "Tales of the South Pacific" by James A. Michener 
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Richard Rodgers
Directed by Bartlett Sher
through November 21 | tickets: $28 - $70
Performances Tuesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, Sunday November 14 at 7:30pm, Thursday November 18 at 1pm

David Pittsinger (Emile de Becque), Carmen Cusack (Nellie Forbush), Anderson Davis (Lt. Cable), Timothy Gulan (Luther Billis), Jodi Kimura (Bloody Mary), Chad Jennings (Capt. Brackett), Peter Rini (Cmdr. Harbison), Sumie Maeda (Liat), Rusty Ross (Professor), Genson Blimline (Stewpot), Christina Carrera (Ngana) and CJ Palma (Jerome).

Musical staging by Christopher Gattelli; sets by Michael Yeargan (winner of the 2008 Tony Award®); costumes by Catherine Zuber (winner of the 2008 Tony Award®); lighting by Donald Holder (winner of the 2008 Tony Award®); sound by Scott Lehrer (winner of the 2008 Tony Award®); music direction by Ted Sperling.

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