Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"South Pacific" presented by PBS "Live from Lincoln Center"
The story concerns an American nurse (Nellie Forbush, played by Kelli O’Hara) stationed on a South Pacific island during WWII, who meets an expatriated French estate owner (Emile de Becque, played by Paulo Szot) whom the US Navy wants to send on a spy mission against the Japs as a civilian.
But the score is well known for its “heterosexism” (“There Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Dame”), and a bachelor commander in his 50s (in the Navy, that’s interesting, given today’s political issues like “don’t ask don’t tell”), and a most likeable and scholarly young Marine Corps lieutenant Joe Cable, from Princeton NJ, who will eventually meet a tragic end. in an intelligence mission.
The website for the show is here but it was timing out Wednesday night.
The 20th Century Fox film came out in the spring of 1958, when I was in 9th Grade, and was directed by Joshua Logan. As I recall, the film, after the overture, opened with “Bloody Mary”. In both the film and show, the “unit cohesion” among most of the sailors is evident, and Joe Cable tends to stand out as a little bit “special”. He sings "Only in Springtime" and later "You have to be carefully taught to hate", a remarkable song for 1950. Cable eventually convinces the Frenchman to accompany him on the mission, that will turn the course of the War in the Pacific. In the presentation tonight, Cable is played by a sleek and smooth replacement, Andrew Samonsky. I had a Capitol LP recording of the motion picture soundtrack in the late 1950s.
Alan Alda was the host on PBS. The show originally opened on Broadway in 1950.
In this version, the turnabout stage recreates the cluttered look of a Navy beachhead.
The orchestral overture is essentially a medley, but with some effective ninth chords and a touch of Ravel-like impressionism.
PBS has a video with a trailer for the show, here:
YouTube has a video comparing the show to the movie.