South Pacific

South Pacific is a 1949 musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The story draws from James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, 1948 novel, Tales of the South Pacific, weaving together characters and elements from several of its stories into a single plotline. The musical won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950.

Generally considered to be one of the greatest musicals in history, several of its songs, including “Bali Ha’i,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Happy Talk,” “Younger than Springtime,” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,” have become worldwide standards. The Broadway production of South Pacific was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won all of them, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Libretto. It was the only musical production ever to win all four Tony Awards for acting. The show was a critical and box office hit and has since enjoyed many successful revivals and tours and spawned a 1958 film and other adaptations.

South Pacific opened on Broadway on April 7, 1949, at the Majestic Theatre, moving to the Broadway Theatre in June 1953. It was produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein in association with Leland Hayward and Joshua Logan, with direction and musical staging by Logan. At the time it closed on January 16, 1954, after 1,925 performances, it was the fifth-longest running show in Broadway history.

It’s World War II and the US military has stationed a base on a South Pacific island. Soon, a young nurse, Nellie Forbush, falls in love with a middle-aged French plantation owner, Emile de Becque. The two have a troubled romance as Nellie slowly discovers the details of de Becque’s past. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Cable arrives to head a mission to create a spy post on a Japanese-held island. Bloody Mary, the island souvenir dealer, sets Cable up with her daughter, Liat. After Cable refuses to marry the girl, Bloody Mary drags her away to find a new suitor. Soon, Cable must begin his dangerous mission. After considerable thought and pressure, de Becque agrees to be Cable’s guide. In the end, Cable dies but de Becque survives and will live a life of happiness with Nellie.

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