Archive for October 2nd, 2011

Top illustration shows how beautiful film looks without colored filters; middle one in magenta shows film's visual look at it's absolute worst; despite glorious shot of Mitzi Gaynor, unsightly blurring ruins image in bottom cap

by Sam Juliano

 “Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger
You may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know
You know even then
That somewhere you’ll see her again and again..”

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific is widely considered one of the greatest works of musical theatre ever produced, yet until 2008, a Broadway revival never materialized. When the work finally received its well-deserved encore decades later at the Vivien Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center, it won rapturous praise from critics and audiences alike and captured several Tony Awards including “Best Musical Revival.”  I attended this production three times during its run and was enraptured in each instance.   In 1949, the original show with Mary Martin and opera star Ezio Pinza in the leads, won the Best Musical prize and a record-setting number of acting awards that has stood to this day, and ran for nearly 2,000 performances over five years. The show is one of the five R & H masterpieces with Oklahoma!, The King and I, Carousel and The Sound of Music, yet a strong case could be made that it boasts what may well be the most beautiful of all the celebrated duo’s scores, tinged as it is with melancholic romanticism and idyllic bliss, even as its racial underpinnings have dated.

Based on James A. Michener’s series of stories, “Tales of the South Pacific” the musical has always been considered well ahead of its time, because of its candid consideration of prejudice. A young American nurse, Nellie Forbush falls for the older French planter Emile De Becque, but must confront her own bias when she learns that he fathered two interracial children, while the Princeton-educated Lt. Joseph Cable likewise is enchanted by Liat, a Tonkinese girl, but knows his own ingrained prejudice will prevent him from marrying her. The Lincoln Center production was helmed by the visionary Bartlett Sher, who guided two acclaimed Metropolitan Opera productions of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, and it brought togather some exceptional singers, first-rate staging and marvelous pacing to afford this classic of the theatre a near-perfect presentation. (more…)

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