Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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South Pacific

Lincoln Center Theater’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific is the first “Broadway” revival of the show since its opening nearly 60 years ago. As one enters the theater, there is a script spread across the stage, upon which are projected the first few sentences of James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” the book upon which the show was based: “I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description. I wish I could tell you about the sweating jungle, the full moon rising behind the volcanoes, and the waiting. The waiting. The timeless, repetitive waiting.”
The story takes place in the South Pacific, during World War II. Seabees and nurses are stationed there, and they live their lives. The Island of Bali-Hai was the metaphor for their existence, wonderful, mysterious, and unpredictable. The performances of the Seabees, their dances, and the songs, kept me on the edge of my seat. Every song was catchy and every Seabee was exciting to watch.
From the moment the glorious music of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein was delivered from the 30-piece orchestra, I was stunned. The haunting and beautiful melodies sung by the Seabees and the nurses got stuck in my head, waiting impatiently to be sung. After seeing the show, I quietly hummed them in my head.  The beautiful scenic design makes the story even more enchanting and wonderful.
We, as the audience, witness how Nellie Forbush is transformed into a confident woman. I thought she performed with utmost ease and really fit into the role of her character. Her romance with Emile de Beque, the French plantation owner, redefines her view of the world and of herself. Emile de Beque’s performance was outstanding, the deep and stunning voice brought goose bumps to my skin. I even felt as if her were singing to me.
The other love story, between Lieutenant Joe Cable and Liat, Bloody Mary’s daughter, went on even through society’s racial prejudice (most of the society didn’t approve the relationships between whites and Tonks). I thought Liat’s performance was too brief, she didn’t really show enough of her character. The handsome Lieutenant Cable subtly acted his character and showed us what it is like to go against society and follow your heart.
Even though it lasted for more than three hours, its sweet ending left me speechless and gasping for more. It was more than the typical Broadway show, it was a show every one of us deserves to see and experience.