Theater News Online
free issue
London Theatre Reviews
NY Theater Reviews
LTN Recommendations
NYTN Recommendations
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
London Theatre Archives
NY Theater Archives
Latest New York News
Latest London News
NY News Archives
London News Archives
Peter Filichia's Monday Quiz
Dining and Travel
London Theatre Listings
NY Broadway Listings
Off-Broadway Listings
London Tickets
Advertise with us

Give a Gift


Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center

By Bill Stevenson

  Scene from South Pacific

Apparently good things really do come to those who wait. Rodgers & Hammerstein lovers have been waiting an awfully long time for a revival of their 1949 musical South Pacific. After the original production closed in 1954, there was a brief revival at City Center the following year, and since then New Yorkers have had to wait 52 years to hear Some Enchanted Evening, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, There is Nothin' Like a Dame, Younger Than Springtime, and the other hummable tunes from the show.

What a score! And what a cast Lincoln Center has assembled for this superb revival. Kelli O'Hara (who got her big break on the same stage in The Light in the Piazza) has the voice, the looks, and even the cheery personality to play Ensign Nellie Forbush. She's a better actress now than she was in Piazza, and that serves her well during the serious scenes in Act II. O'Hara was a natural choice for the part, but director Bartlett Sher and the casting agents mounted an international search to find the right man to play debonair Frenchman Emile de Becque. They chose Brazilian opera singer Paulo Szot, and when he unleashes his rich, powerful voice on Some Enchanted Evening and This Nearly Was Mine, there's no doubt that he's perfect for the role (even though he's not quite old enough for it).

Matthew Morrison (O'Hara's costar in Piazza) also couldn't be better as Lt. Joseph Cable, a Princeton grad who falls for lovely young Polynesian Liat (Li Jun Li). Her mother is the entrepreneurial Bloody Mary (Loretta Ables Sayre), who throws Cable and Liat together in hopes that they will marry. Sayre, who sings the mysterious Bali Ha'i, is amusing without being too much of a stereotype.

Besides capturing what it was like to serve on remote islands during World War II, South Pacific (based on James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific) also touches on the racism that surfaced when white officers became involved with Polynesian women. Most of the second act is more somber than the first, which has most of the familiar songs. Even though it's shorter than the first act, the second feels longer due to the melancholy mood.

Still, near the end we get to hear Szot sing the heck out of This Nearly Was Mine, and his stirring rendition is a highlight of the production. Actually, this enchanted evening at the theater has numerous highlights. I hope Lincoln Center will be able to extend or move this sensational revival, and if they do I hope the wonderful cast-backed by an excellent, large orchestra-will be singing their hearts out for some time. (Since this review was filed, Lincoln Center Theater has announced that South Pacific will be an open-ended run, with tickets selling into January, 2009 -Ed.)


SUBSCRIBE TO New York Theater News
SUBSCRIBE TO London Theater News

Yes, Prime Minister contracts its run, while A Chorus Line expands its own.
POWERHOUSE OF THEATRE - After 11 years as the Almeida Theatre's artistic director, Michael Attenborough is stepping down to focus on directing. 

SONGS FROM THE HEART - Once the Tony-Award winning musical is set to hit London in January.

Wine, Fruit, and Gourmet Gift Baskets.
Privacy Notice   |   Front Page
Copyright © All Rights Reserved.