Original Cast Recording
|Lyrics||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|Book||Oscar Hammerstein II
|Basis||Tales of the South Pacific
by James A. Michener
1950 U.S. tour
1951 West End
1958 Film version
2001 U.S. Television
2001 West End revival
2005 Carnegie Hall Concert
2008 Broadway revival
2009 U.S. tour
|Awards||Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Original Score
Tony Award for Best Author
Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical
South Pacific is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The plot draws from James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, combining elements of several of the stories in that book. The musical centers on an American nurse stationed at a U.S. Naval base during World War II who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. A second romance concerns a U.S. lieutenant who falls in love with a young Asian woman. The issue of racial prejudice is candidly explored throughout the musical, most pointedly in the song, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught".
South Pacific is considered to be one of the greatest Broadway musicals. The musical premiered in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. Several of its songs, including "Bali Ha'i", "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair", "Some Enchanted Evening", "Happy Talk", "Younger than Springtime" and "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy", have become popular standards. The Broadway production won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Libretto, and it is the only musical production ever to have won all four Tony Awards for acting. The show was a critical and box office hit and has since enjoyed many successful revivals and tours, spawning a 1958 film and other adaptations. The 2008 Broadway revival was a strong success, winning seven Tonys including Best Musical Revival.
Stage and film director Joshua Logan, a World War II veteran, read James Michener's 1947 short story collection Tales of the South Pacific and decided to adapt it. He and producer Leland Hayward purchased the rights from Michener. They asked Rodgers to compose music for the work and Hammerstein to write the libretto; Hayward would produce, and Logan would serve as director and producer. Rodgers and Hammerstein accepted, and they began transforming the short stories "Fo' Dolla" and "Our Heroine" into a unified tale. Since both stories were serious in tone, Michener agreed to include a third story about Luther Billis, a womanizing sailor. Hammerstein knew very little about the U.S. Navy in World War II or about Nellie's Southern dialect and culture. Rodgers asked Logan to help Hammerstein write the book, and Logan asked to be credited as co-author. Hammerstein agreed but added, "Of course, it goes without saying that you won't get anything whatsoever of the author's royalties."
Rodgers received a telephone call from Edwin Lester of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. He had signed recently retired Metropolitan Opera star Ezio Pinza for a new musical, but the musical fell through and, according to his contract, Pinza had to be paid $25,000 regardless of whether he actually performed. Lester was searching for a new vehicle for Pinza, and Rodgers and Hammerstein eagerly signed the singer to play Emile de Becque, the male lead. Hammerstein had been particularly inspired by Mary Martin, having seen her wearing a gingham dress in the last scene of One Touch of Venus, and he wanted her to play Nellie Forbush, the female lead. Martin was busy playing Annie Oakley in the touring company of Annie Get Your Gun, but after Rodgers and Hammerstein auditioned three songs, "A Cockeyed Optimist", "Some Enchanted Evening" and "Twin Soliloquies", for Martin and her husband Richard Halliday, she accepted the role. Although Nellie and Emile were already fully developed characters in Michener's stories, during the creation of South Pacific Rodgers, Hammerstein and Logan began to adapt the roles specifically to the talents of Martin and Pinza and to tailor the music for their voices.
The musical explores the theme of racial prejudice in several ways. Nellie struggles to accept Emile's mixed-race children. Another American serviceman, Lieutenant Cable, struggles with the prejudice that he would face if he were to marry an Asian woman. His song about this, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught", was criticized as too controversial for the musical stage and called indecent and pro-communist. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing any entertainment containing "an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow." One legislator said that "a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life." Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly. James Michener recalled, "The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in."
On a South Pacific island during World War II, two half-Polynesian children, Ngana and Jerome, happily sing as they play together ("Dites-Moi"). Ensign Nellie Forbush, a naïve U.S. Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, has fallen in love with Emile de Becque, a middle-aged French plantation owner, though she has known him only briefly. Even though everyone else is worried about the outcome of the war, Nellie tells Emile that she is sure everything will turn out all right ("Cockeyed Optimist"). Emile also loves Nellie, and each wonders if the other reciprocates his/her feelings ("Twin Soliloquies"). Emile expresses his feelings for Nellie, recalling how they met at the officers' club dance and instantly were attracted to each other ("Some Enchanted Evening"). Nellie, promising to think about their relationship, returns to the hospital. Emile calls Ngana and Jerome to him, revealing to the audience that they are his children, unbeknownst to Nellie.
Meanwhile, the restless American seabees, led by crafty Luther Billis, the sailors' leading comic relief, lament the absence of women to relieve their boredom. Navy nurses are commissioned officers and thus off-limits to enlisted men. There is one civilian woman on the island, nicknamed "Bloody Mary", a sassy middle-aged Tonkinese vendor of grass skirts, who engages the sailors in sarcastic, flirtatious banter as she tries to sell them her wares ("Bloody Mary"). Billis yearns to visit the nearby island of Bali Ha'i — which is off-limits to all but officers — supposedly to witness a Boar's Tooth Ceremony; the other sailors josh him, saying that his real motivation is to see the young French women there. Billis and the sailors further lament their lack of feminine companionship ("There is Nothing Like a Dame").
U.S. Marine Lieutenant Joseph Cable arrives on the island from Guadalcanal, having been sent to take part in a dangerous spy mission whose success could turn the tide of the war against Japan. Bloody Mary tries to persuade Cable to visit "Bali Ha'i", mysteriously telling him that it is his special island. Billis, seeing an opportunity, urges Cable to go. Cable meets with his commanding officers, Captain George Brackett and Commander William Harbison, who plan to ask Emile to help with the mission because he used to live on the island where the mission will take place. They ask Nellie to help them find out more about Emile's background, for example, his politics and why he left France. They have heard, for instance, that Emile committed a murder, and one opinion is that this might make him desirable for such a mission.
After thinking a bit more about Emile and deciding she has become attracted on the basis of little knowledge of him, Nellie tells the other nurses that she intends to spurn him ("I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair"). Emile arrives unexpectedly and invites Nellie to a party where he will introduce her to his friends. Seeing how much he cares about her, Nellie realizes she is still in love with him, and accepts his invitation. Emile again declares his love and asks Nellie to marry him. When she mentions politics, he speaks of universal freedom, and describes fleeing France after resisting a local bully and choking him to death in self-defense. After hearing this, Nellie agrees to marry Emile. After he exits, Nellie joyously declares her love for Emile ("I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy").
Cable's mission is to land on a Japanese-held island and report on Japanese ship movements. The Navy officers ask Emile to be Cable's guide, but he refuses their request because of his hopes for a new life with Nellie. Commander Harbison, the executive officer, tells Cable to go on leave until the mission can take place. Billis convinces Lt. Cable to take him to Bali Ha'i. There, Billis participates in the native ceremony, while Bloody Mary introduces Cable to her beautiful daughter, Liat, with whom he must communicate in French. Believing that Liat's only chance at a better life is to marry an American officer, Mary leaves Liat alone with Cable. The two are instantly attracted to each other and make love ("Younger Than Springtime"). Billis and the rest of the crew are ready to leave the island, yet must wait for Cable who, unbeknownst to them, is with Liat ("Bali Ha'i" (Reprise)). Bloody Mary proudly tells Billis that Cable is going to be her son-in-law.
Meanwhile, after Emile's party, Emile and Nellie reflect on how happy they are to be in love (Reprises of "A Wonderful Guy", "Twin Soliloquies", "Cockeyed Optimist" and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair"). Emile introduces Nellie to Jerome and Ngana. Though she finds them charming, she is shocked when Emile reveals that they are his children by a native woman, now deceased. Nellie is unable to overcome her deep-seated racial prejudices and tearfully leaves Emile, after which he reflects sadly on what might have been ("Some Enchanted Evening" (Reprise)).
It is Thanksgiving Day. The seabees and nurses dance in a holiday revue titled "Thanksgiving Follies". In the past week, an epidemic of malaria has hit the island of Bali Ha'i. Having visited Bali Ha'i often to be with Liat, Cable is also ill, but escapes from the hospital to be with Liat. As Liat and Cable spend more time together, Bloody Mary is delighted. She encourages them to continue their carefree life on the island ("Happy Talk") and urges them to marry. Cable, due to his family's prejudices, says he cannot marry a Tonkinese girl. Bloody Mary furiously drags her distraught daughter away, telling Cable that Liat must now marry a much older French plantation owner instead. Cable laments that Liat is no longer part of his life ("Younger Than Springtime" [Reprise]).
For the final number of the Thanksgiving Follies, Nellie performs a comedy burlesque dressed as a sailor singing the praises of "his" sweetheart ("Honey Bun"). Billis plays Honey Bun, dressed in a blond wig, grass skirt and coconut-shell bra. After the show, Emile congratulates Nellie and asks her to reconsider and try to overcome her prejudice. She insists that she cannot feel the same way about him since she knows about his children's Polynesian mother.
Emile asks Cable why he and Nellie have such prejudices. Cable, filled with self-loathing, replies that "it's not something you're born with", yet it is an ingrained part of their upbringing ("You've Got to Be Carefully Taught"). He also vows that if he gets out of the war alive, he won't go home to the United States. Emile imagines what might have been ("This Nearly Was Mine"). Dejected and feeling that he has nothing to lose, he agrees to join Cable on his dangerous mission. The mission begins with plenty of air support. Offstage, Billis stows away on the plane, falls out, and ends up in the ocean waiting to be rescued; the massive rescue operation inadvertently becomes a diversion that allows Emile and Cable to land on the other side of the island undetected. The two send back reports on Japanese ships' movements in the "Slot"; American aircraft intercept and destroy the Japanese ships. When the Japanese Zeros strafe the Americans' position, Emile narrowly escapes, but Cable is killed.
Nellie learns of Cable's death and that Emile is missing. She realizes that she was foolish to reject Emile because of his children's mother's race. Bloody Mary and Liat come to Nellie asking where Cable is; Mary explains that Liat refuses to marry anyone but him. Nellie comforts Liat. Cable and Emile's espionage work has made it possible for a major offensive, "Operation Alligator", to begin. The previously idle sailors, including Billis, go off to battle.
Nellie spends time with Jerome and Ngana and soon comes to love them. While the children are teaching her to sing "Dites-Moi," suddenly Emile's voice joins them. Emile has returned to see that Nellie has overcome her prejudices and has fallen in love with his children. Emile, Nellie and his — soon to be their — children rejoice ("Dites-Moi" (Reprise)).
South Pacific premiered in out-of-town tryouts on March 7, 1949, at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. After the first performance, Broadway and movie producer Mike Todd told Mary Martin, who was playing Nellie, not to take the show to New York. She "could not believe her ears and asked him why", and Todd replied, "Because it's too ... good for them!" The show moved to Boston, where it was so successful that playwright George S. Kaufman joked that people in Boston lining up at the Shubert Theatre "don't actually want anything. ... They just want to push money under the doors."
South Pacific opened on Broadway on April 7, 1949, at the Majestic Theatre, moving to the Broadway Theatre in June 1953. Rodgers and Hammerstein produced the show themselves, in association with Leland Hayward and Joshua Logan, with direction and musical staging by Logan. The production ran for almost five years. When it closed on January 16, 1954, after 1,925 performances, it was then the fifth-longest running show in Broadway history.
The production won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Libretto, Best Director and all four acting awards. In addition to Martin and Pinza, the cast included Juanita Hall and Myron McCormick (both of whom won Tonys), Martin Wolfson and Betta St. John. In June 1951, Martha Wright replaced Mary Martin, and performed the role for the remaining 1,047 performances. George Britton took over the role of Emile de Becque in January 1952, remaining until the show closed in January 1954. Actress Cloris Leachman, Martin's understudy, played Nellie for four weeks on Broadway after she impressed Logan, Rodgers and Hammerstein while auditioning for the lead as a replacement in the national tour. Odette Myrtil replaced Hall as Bloody Mary.
A U.S. tour ran for almost five years in 118 cities, from April 1950 through March 26, 1955. Janet Blair starred as Nellie, followed by Jeanne Bal and Iva Withers. Richard Eastham, Webb Tilton and Alan Gerard reprised Emile.
The original London West End production ran from November 1, 1951 to 1953, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Logan directed; Mary Martin and Wilbur Evans starred; and it featured Ray Walston (Luther), Muriel Smith (Bloody Mary), Peter Grant (Joe Cable) and Ivor Emmanuel (Sgt. Johnson). Julie Wilson eventually replaced Mary Martin.
A 1988 West End revival starred Gemma Craven supported by Emile Belcourt, Bertice Reading and Johnny Wade, and was directed by Roger Redfern. It ran at the Prince of Wales Theatre from January 20, 1988 to January 14, 1989.
A new production with slight revisions to the book and score was produced by the Royal National Theatre at the Olivier Theatre for a limited run from December 2001 through April 2002, timed to celebrate the centenary of Richard Rodgers' birth. Trevor Nunn directed, with musical staging by Matthew Bourne and designs by John Napier. Lauren Kennedy was Nellie, and Australian actor Philip Quast played Emile, winning an Olivier Award as Best Actor. A film of this production can be viewed at the V&A Theatre Collections reading room at Blythe House in London.
A limited run of South Pacific by the New York City Center Light Opera Company opened at New York City Center on May 4, 1955, closing on May 15, 1955. It was directed by Charles Atkin, with costumes by Motley and sets by Jo Mielziner. The cast included Richard Collett as Emile, Sandra Deel as Nellie, Carol Lawrence as Liat, Sylvia Syms as Bloody Mary and Gene Saks as the Professor. A second limited run of the same production with a different cast opened at City Center on April 24, 1957, closing on May 12, 1957. It was directed by Jean Dalrymple, and the cast included Robert Wright as Emile, Mindy Carson as Nellie and Hall reprising the role of Bloody Mary.
There were two revivals at Lincoln Center. Richard Rodgers produced the 1967 revival, which starred Florence Henderson and Giorgio Tozzi, who had been Rosanno Brazzi's singing voice in the 1958 film. The cast album was issued on LP and later on CD. A New York City Opera production in 1987 featured alternating performers Justino Diaz and Stanley Wexler; and Susan Bigelow and Marcia Mitzman.
On June 9, 2005, a concert version of the musical, edited down to two hours, but including all of the songs and the full musical score, was presented at Carnegie Hall. It starred Reba McEntire as Nellie Forbush, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Emile, Alec Baldwin as Luther Billis and Lillias White as Bloody Mary, with a full supporting cast. The production used Robert Russell Bennett's original orchestrations, with the Orchestra of St. Luke's directed by Paul Gemignani. It was taped and telecast by PBS on April 26, 2006. The DVD of the performance was released in June 2006. The New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote, "Open-voiced and open-faced, Reba McEntire was born to play Nellie", and the production was received "in a state of nearly unconditional rapture. It was one of those nights when cynicism didn’t stand a chance."
A Broadway revival of South Pacific opened on April 3, 2008 at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Bartlett Sher directed, with musical staging by Christopher Gattelli and associate choreographer Joe Langworth. The opening cast starred Kelli O'Hara as Nellie, Paulo Szot as Emile and Matthew Morrison as Lt. Cable, with Danny Burstein as Billis and Loretta Ables Sayre as Bloody Mary. Laura Osnes replaced O'Hara during her seven-month maternity leave beginning in March 2009, and also between January and August 2010. Szot alternated with David Pittsinger as Emile. The production closed on August 22, 2010, after 37 previews and 996 regular performances.
I know we’re not supposed to expect perfection in this imperfect world, but I'm darned if I can find one serious flaw in this production. (Yes, the second act remains weaker than the first, but Mr. Sher almost makes you forget that.) All of the supporting performances, including those of the ensemble, feel precisely individualized, right down to how they wear Catherine Zuber's carefully researched period costumes.
The revival won seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival (Sher and Szot also won, and the show won in all four design categories), and five Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical Revival. The late Robert Russell Bennett was also recognized that season for "his historic contribution to American musical theatre in the field of orchestrations, as represented on Broadway this season by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific."
The production, with most of the original principals, was taped and broadcast live in HD on August 18, 2010 on the PBS television show Live from Lincoln Center. Due to schedule conflicts, the role of Lt. Cable, originally played by Morrison, was played by Andrew Samonsky.
A production based on the 2008 Broadway revival opened at the Barbican Theatre in London on August 15, 2011 and closed on October 1, 2011. Sher again directed, with the same creative team from the Broadway revival. Szot and Welsh National Opera singer Jason Howard alternated in the role of Emile, with Samantha Womack as Nellie Forbush, Ables Sayre as Bloody Mary and Alex Ferns as Luther. The production received mostly positive reviews. The production received three Olivier Award nominations, including Best Musical Revival, but won none.
A UK touring production of South Pacific opened at the Blackpool Grand Theatre on August 28, 2007. The tour ended at the Cardiff New Theatre as of July 19, 2008. It starred Helena Blackman as Nellie and Dave Willetts as Emile. Peter Frosdick and Martin Dodd produced the tour. Julian Woolford directed, with choreography by Chris Hocking. This production was most noted for its staging of the overture, which charted Nellie's journey from Little Rock, Arkansas to the South Pacific. On entering the theatre, the audience first saw a map of the U.S., not the theater of war.
A U.S. national tour based on the 2008 Broadway revival began in San Francisco, California at the Golden Gate Theatre on September 18, 2009. Bartlett Sher directed, and the cast included Rod Gilfry (Emile), Carmen Cusack (Nellie) and Anderson Davis (Lt. Cable). Howard shared the role of Emile with David Pittsinger. The tour ended on March 20, 2011 in Toronto.
The Sher production is also scheduled to be produced by Opera Australia and to run at the Sydney Opera House from 8 August to 9 September 2012 and then at Princess Theatre, Melbourne from 13 September to 14 October 2012. It will star Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Emile, Lisa McCune as Nellie, Kate Ceberano as Bloody Mary and star Eddie Perfect as Luther Billis.
South Pacific opened on Broadway with $400,000 in advance sales. The New York Times and other newspapers published glowing reviews of the show; one critic called it "South Terrific". People were so eager to obtain tickets that columnist Leonard Lyons wrote a column about the lengths people had gone to in getting them. Because "house seats" were being sold by scalpers for $200 or more, the attorney general's office threatened to close the show. However, the parties who provided the scalpers with the tickets were never identified, and the show ran without interference. The production grossed $2,635,000, with a $50,600 weekly gross, and ran for 1,925 performances. The national tour began in 1950 and grossed $3,000,000 in the first year, making $1,500,000 in profit. The original cast album, priced at $4.85, sold more than a million copies.
The original production of South Pacific won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Male Performer (Pinza), Best Female Performer (Martin), Best Supporting Male Performer (McCormick), Best Supporting Female Performer (Hall), Best Director (Logan), Best Book and Best Score. In 1950, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, the Pulitzer Prize was given to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein only; Joshua Logan was not recognized for his work on the libretto until later. The 2001 London revival garnered a Laurence Olivier Award for Philip Quast (Emile). The 2008 Broadway revival won numerous theatre awards including Tony and Drama Desk Awards for best revival of a musical, director, leading actor (Szot) and for sound and set design. It also won Tonys for costume and lighting design, as well as nominations for choreography and for the performances of O'Hara, Burstein and Ables Sayre. The late Robert Russell Bennett was also recognized that season for "his historic contribution to American musical theatre in the field of orchestrations, as represented on Broadway this season by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific."
Reviewers gave the original production warm reviews. The New York Herald Tribune wrote:
The new and much-heralded musical, South Pacific, is a show of rare enchantment. It is novel in texture and treatment, rich in dramatic substance, and eloquent in song, a musical play to be cherished. Under Logan's superb direction, the action shifts with constant fluency.... [He] has kept the book cumulatively arresting and tremendously satisfying. The occasional dances appear to be magical improvisations. It is a long and prodigal entertainment, but it seems all too short. The Rodgers music is not his finest, but it fits the mood and pace of South Pacific so felicitously that one does not miss a series of hit tunes. In the same way the lyrics are part and parcel of a captivating musical unity.
The New York Daily Mirror critic wrote, "Programmed as a musical play, South Pacific is just that. It boasts no ballets and no hot hoofing. It has no chorus in the conventional sense. Every one in it plays a part. It is likely to establish a new trend in musicals." The review continued: "Every number is so outstanding that it is difficult to decide which will be the most popular." The review in New York World-Telegram found the show to be "the ultimate modern blending of music and popular theatre to date, with the finest kind of balance between story and song, and hilarity and heartbreak."
Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times especially praised Pinza's performance: "Mr. Pinza's bass voice is the most beautiful that has been heard on a Broadway stage for an eon or two. He sings ... with infinite delicacy of feeling and loveliness of tone." He declared that "Some Enchanted Evening", sung by Pinza, "ought to become reasonably immortal." Richard Watts, Jr. of the New York Post focused on Mary Martin's performance, writing, "nothing I have ever seen her do prepared me for the loveliness, humor, gift for joyous characterization, and sheer lovableness of her portrayal of Nellie Forbush ... who is so shocked to find her early racial prejudices cropping up. Hers is a completely irresistible performance."
A 2006 review asserted: "Many are the knowledgeable and discriminating people for whom Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, brilliantly co-written and staged by Joshua Logan, was the greatest musical of all." Another writer, however, criticized the play as having an Orientalist and Western-centric storyline in which stereotypical natives take on "exotic background roles" in relation to Americans, and characterized the relationship between Lieutenant Cable and Liat as underage prostitution, charging that she "speaks not a word in the whole musical, only smiles and takes the Yankee to bed." Former Marine Robert Leckie wrote his World War II memoir Helmet for My Pillow after walking out of a performance of South Pacific. Leckie stated "I have to tell the story of how it really was. I have to let people know the war wasn’t a musical."
Columbia Records recorded the overture and most of the songs from the original production in 1949, using members of the cast including Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin. Drawn from the original masters, Columbia released the album in both the new LP format and on 78-rpm discs. When Sony acquired Columbia, a CD was released[when?] from the previously unused magnetic tape recording from the same 1949 sessions in New York City. The CD includes the bonus tracks: "Loneliness of Evening" (recorded in 1949 by Mary Martin but not used in South Pacific; the piece was used and sung by the Prince in the second TV version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella); "My Girl Back Home" (recorded by Mary Martin); "Bali Ha'i" (cover version by Ezio Pinza); and Symphonic Scenario for Concert Orchestra (original orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett). The film soundtrack was released on the RCA Victor label on March 19, 1958.
Masterworks Broadway released a recording of the 1967 Lincoln Center production starring Florence Henderson as Nellie, Giorgio Tozzi as Emile, David Doyle as Luther Billis, Justin McDonough as Lt. Cable, Lyle Talbot as Capt. Brackett and Irene Byatt as Bloody Mary.
In 1986 José Carreras and Kiri Te Kanawa made a studio recording of South Pacific, the sessions of which were filmed as a documentary, similar in style to Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story documentary a year earlier which featured the same stars. It also featured Sarah Vaughan as Bloody Mary and Mandy Patinkin as Lt. Cable.
The 2001 Royal National Theatre's revival cast album was recorded in 2002 on First Night Records with Philip Quast as Emile, Lauren Kennedy as Nellie, Edward Baker-Duly as Lt. Cable, Sheila Francisco as Bloody Mary and Nick Holder as Luther Billis. The album includes the cut song, "Now Is the Time".
The 2005 Carnegie Hall concert version was released on April 18, 2006 by Decca Broadway with Reba McEntire as Nellie, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Emile, Lillias White as Bloody Mary, Jason Danieley as Lt. Cable, and Alec Baldwin as Luther Billis, and includes most of the dialogue used in the live performance.
The 2008 Broadway revival cast album was released on May 27, 2008 by Masterworks Broadway.
South Pacific was made into a film of the same name in 1958, and it topped the box office that year. Joshua Logan directed the film, which starred Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr, Ray Walston and Juanita Hall; all of their singing voices except Gaynor's and Walston's were dubbed by other singers. The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound. It was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, and the 65 mm Todd-AO cinematography by Leon Shamroy was also nominated.
In the film the order of the first two scenes, along with the songs they contain, is switched. The beginning of the film shows Lieutenant Cable being flown by plane to the island, and the first musical number is "Bloody Mary", sung by the Seabees. Emile does not appear in the film until about 30 minutes into it; Nellie first appears during the scene with the Seabees. Because of the switch, the show's most famous song, "Some Enchanted Evening", is not heard until nearly 45 minutes into the film. The film also includes the song "My Girl Back Home", sung by Lieutenant Cable, which was cut from the stage musical.
A made-for-television film, directed by Richard Pearce, was produced and televised in 2001, starring Glenn Close as Nellie, Harry Connick, Jr. as Lieutenant Cable, and Rade Sherbedgia as Emile. This version changed the order of the musical's songs, omitted "Happy Talk" and "My Girl Back Home", and cut "Bali Hai" in half; however, cuts made to "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" for the 1958 movie were restored.
The movie, and Close, were praised by The New York Times: "Ms. Close, lean and more mature, hints that a touch of desperation lies in Nellie's cockeyed optimism. 'I'm stuck like a dope with a thing like hope' means one thing when you are in your 20's, something else when you are not." The review also noted that the movie "is beautifully produced, better than the stagy 1958 film. ... The other cast members, including Ms. Close, also sing well." The New York Post stated, "Notions of racism toward the islanders were glossed over in the 1958 movie, but in tonight's remake, the racial themes are brought to the surface, to the production's advantage ... there's a heightened sense of drama and tension in the remake because the war is closer at hand ... the rewards are great." The Washington Post wrote, "[T]here are musical highlights that all but leap from the screen, probably the highest being Close's infectious 'Wonderful Guy'. ... Close is, of course, a better actor on her worst days than Gaynor was on her best, and though she's older than is usual for someone playing nurse Nellie Forbush, she brings radiance, warmth and stature to the part. She also tears merrily into Nellie's numbers."
Criticism of the movie has focused on the changes from previous versions, including Sherbedgia's non-operatic singing voice, as compared with previous Emiles, and Glenn Close's comparatively mature Nellie. Playbill reported that "Internet chat room visitors have grumbled that Close is too old for the role of Nellie Forbush, who, in the song, 'A Cock-Eyed Optimist', is described as 'immature and incurably green'", but "[co-producer] Cohen said the 'May–December' romance plot point ... has less resonance with audiences today and it was cut. Nellie is ageless, in effect."
The film was released on DVD on August 28, 2001. Special features include deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.
As of 2011, a new film is in the works, with Ileen Maisel and Bob Balaban producing. Balaban told Variety in 2010, "Our movie will be a tougher, more realistic retelling of the same classic story". Balaban gave another interview in April 2011, saying: "It’s going beautifully. ... Our [screenwriter] Lynn Grossman is really smart. She can write period [scenes], but it feels very real and contemporary without being modern."
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