Saturday, April 5, 2008


Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
photo credit

I saw South Pacific at the Shubert Theater in Chicago circa 1950.

Janet Blair played Nellie Forbush. I was an usherette, and after everyone was seated, I found a seat in the front row! Fabulous. My favorite part was when the sailor sang "Bloody Mary is the Girl I Love" wearing coconuts for a brassiere. The audience howled. I was very young, and it left an impression of the thrill of musical comedy that stays with me even today. (As you can probably see in this blog)!

It opened again Thursday night at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater, only four days earlier than the original production which opened on April 7 in 1949 at The Majestic. The Broadway production of South Pacific was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won all of them, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Libretto, and Best Director. It was the only musical production ever to win all four Tony Awards for acting. The musical was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950.

Thursday's revival won rave reviews, David Finkle from Theater Mania saying this: Full disclosure: South Pacific was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. Its beauty, humor, and power are in no small way responsible for why I write about theater today. So it's not in the cards that I'm going to say a discouraging word about this musical theater classic, which remains every beat and measure as magnificent as it was on its original opening night, April 7, 1949.

The New York Times has this review:

Optimist Awash in the Tropics
Published: April 4, 2008
Love blossoms fast and early in Bartlett Sher’s rapturous revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” which opened Thursday at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at
Lincoln Center. And while you may think, “But this is so sudden,” you don’t doubt for a second that it’s the real thing.

In other news, Gypsy opened in March starring who also drew raves from the critics. I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but Stephen Joshua Sondheim, lyricist for Gypsy, was close friends as a boy with Jimmy Hammerstein, son of Oscar Hammerstein II, who became a surrogate father to Stephen and basically mentored him, encouraging his love of musical theater. Indeed, it was at the opening of Hammerstein's hit show South Pacific that Sondheim met Harold Prince, who would later direct many of Sondheim's most famous shows.
Hammerstein gave Stephen lessons on creating musical comedy and this liason between the two, along with Sondheim's deep interest, later resulted in six Tony Awards.
Here is the striptease from Gypsy...
And here's a clip of a high schooler singing "Out of My Mind" from Follies five years ago.
I wonder where she is today?? I hope she's singing somewhere in New York!
Courtesy of YouTube
See you next time,


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Ziegfeld Girls & Marilyn Miller 1929


I like to watch them both at the same time.

What time is it? I think it's NOW. (translated: Eastern Daylight Time)

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