Thursday, April 03, 2008

South Pacific @ Lincoln Center

I don't know how you can go wrong with the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Last night's performance of South Pacific at Lincoln Center was a completely enjoyable evening. The play hasn't been revived on Broadway since it's debut in 1949, when it ran for 5 years. Kelli O'Hara was sensational as Ensign Nellie Forbush. She brought a nice sensitivity to the character without making her sappy. Her voice is outstanding. I also saw her in The Light in the Piazza (written by Richard Rodgers grandson). Matthew Morrison, who was also in Piazza, portrayed the conflicted Lt Cable. Matthew seems to be popping up in everything from TV-As The World Turns to movies-Music and Lyrics to theater. He and Kelli team up on the song My Girl Back Home. The song was originally written for the play, but was cut as Mary Martin did not want to duet with Ezio Pinza, the original Emile. She was afraid he would overpower her. It's a beautiful addition to the play. Last but not least, Brazilian opera singer Paulo Szot, Emile, has credits stacked high in the opera world. How does one get a voice like that? Some Enhantent Evening took on a new poignantcy. There are a few YouTube postings on him.

The play is set in the South Pacific during WWll. Old prejudices dies hard. War is surrounding them. Love is in the air. Even with lyrics like "I'm as corny as Kansas in August, I'm as normal as blueberry pie", the songs are not dated. Later on in I'm In Love With a Wonderful Guy, the lyrics bring it to a place anyone can relate to "And you will note there's a lump in my throat, When I speak of that wonderful guy!" The show opens tonight. Go see it and be prepared to be humming the songs in your head for days.

Trivia: James Michener who wrote the book the play is based on won the Pulitzer Prize. This was his first book and was written at age 40.

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