It’s one of the more famous Broadway plays that I haven’t seen, and now I can finally mark it off my list. South Pacific is set on a tropical island during World War II. It’s focused on two couples: a French plantation owner with a questionable past and a US navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, and a Navy Airman along with a young native girl. The reality of the war along with racial prejudices of the time have a strong effect on the couples as well as the others stationed on the island. But it’s not all dark and serious, they know how to lighten things up and have a good time or two. In fact, this is the only play where I can say I’ve seen an actor’s bare backside on stage (well 2 actually). The women in the audience cheered quite loudly for that one.
South Pacific has evolved considerably since its original premiere in 1949, just four years past World War II. Slowly the play had morphed into an upbeat and jolly play performed by high schools and amateur groups. Somewhere along the way, the play lost it’s edge and a lot of its color. With the new production, the director Bartlett Sher has aimed to return to the source material and bring a more realistic and darker tone to the play. And he did just that.
The only real problem I had with the play was I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters other than Nellie… and that connection could very well be because of our shared southern charm. That being said, I still enjoyed it immensely – the music was fantastic. It swept the Tony Awards in 2008, and it won’t take you more than a song to see why. The tone of Carmen Cusack’s voice was not only haunting but unique and memorable. I’ve never heard a southern accent so successfully translate into song. It was absolutely beautiful and impossible for me to try replicate – as the songs have been stuck in my head ever since.
The music, the sets, the acting…. It’s all what you would expect from a play in the Broadway Across America series. It’s a play that you won’t ‘want to wash right out of your hair’.
Check it out at the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta from now through April 11th. Check out Ticketmaster.Com for more details!
Review By: Emma Loggins