Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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The Tony Award Musical

South Pacific

South Pacific

Put together a dish of Tony Award nominees/recipients and a deeply moving drama with an exhilarating musical score on the side for a five star meal you won’t forget – South Pacific. First performed half a century ago, Rodgers & Hammerstein puts this exotic beauty back on stage as a Broadway musical with a re-invigorated passion.

South Pacific explores and challenges many cultural views of Western society during the 1940s, namely the abhorrence of romance with Eastern natives. Forbidden love outlines this story’s drama; impulse fills it. As the story is set in the times of the second Great War, we also get a nice insight into the lives of American soldiers who were fighting the Japs amidst an unknown territory. The soldiers provide jokes and other comical debriefs that cast the musical in a more cheery mood, despite the nature of the drama being told.

With South Pacific, there is something else besides music to appreciate. It’s like eating a slice of cheesecake, only to find a layer of sweet, chocolate filling in the middle. You hear the music and you watch the comedy, and you think to yourself, “It’s damn good.” But then, you discover that there is a message the play is trying to convey, something explicitly woven into the long dialogues of the protagonists, that sweet chocolate filling, and you think to yourself, “It’s better than damn good.”