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South Pacific

South Pacific is a musical play by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, which opened on Broadway on April 7, 1949. The musical is based on some short stories by James A. Michener, entitled Tales of the South Pacific. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. The original cast included Mary Martin, who created the role of the heroine, Nellie Forbush, and opera star Ezio Pinza, who played the part of Emile de Becque, the French plantation owner. Also in the cast were Juanita Hall , Myron McCormick , Betta St. John , and William Tabbert .



The main storyline concerns a U.S. Navy nurse stationed on a Pacific island during World War II. Having fallen in love with a middle-aged French plantation owner, she is shocked to discover that he has mixed-race children from an earlier relationship. A sub-plot deals with the romance between U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Joe Cable and a Tonkinese girl, Liat, the daughter of "Bloody Mary". Unfortunately, Lieutenant Cable dies. The issue of racial prejudice is sensitively and candidly explored.


  • "Dites Moi"
  • "A Cockeyed Optimist"
  • "Twin Soliloquies"
  • "Some Enchanted Evening"
  • "Bloody Mary"
  • "There Is Nothing Like a Dame"
  • "Bali Ha'i"
  • "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair"
  • "I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy"
  • "Younger Than Springtime"
  • "Happy Talk"
  • "Honey Bun"
  • "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught"
  • "This Nearly Was Mine"

1958 musical film

The musical was made into a successful film of 1958, starring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in the leading roles, with Juanita Hall in the part of Bloody Mary which she had played in the original stage production. Metropolitan Opera star Giorgio Tozzi provided the voice for the role of Emile de Becque. Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands, served as the filming location for the movie.

Television productions

It has been filmed twice for television, in 1976 (directed by Julian Krainin ) and 2001 (directed by Richard Pearce and starring Glenn Close).

Political incorrectness

On occasion, South Pacific is criticized for its political incorrectness, despite the general opinion that it took a radical position for its time. It is argued that Joe Cable, one of the male leads who would have married Liat, the Tonkeniese daughter of Bloody Mary, was killed in the play to eliminate the prospect of a transracial marriage occurring in the musical because it was too radical for an 1940's audience. The only shocking statement against racism is that Nelly Forbush, a caucasian woman, marries Emile De Becque, a caucasian man who is father to two half-Tonkeniese children whose mother had died long ago.

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