Apr 11, 2008

In Love

As a student as well as a fan of the American musical at its best, I was impressed, bemused, and more or less totally enthralled by Bart Sher's new revival of South Pacific, a show I had unjustly underrated based on the execrable Josh Logan movie and a fine but hardly definitive high school production I saw in my youth. The cliche bears repeating: They just don't make 'em like this anymore, and while I'm not sure anyone should try, there's a lot of punch and heft, even grandeur, still left in these old scores. Unlike the countless great standards written by contemporaries who happened to introduce them in the theatre, in musicals that have notoriously variable shelf-lives, Rodgers & Hammerstein's masterful song- and scene-craft positively blossoms in its original habitat.

Particularly when it's given such a lavish, intent, judiciously but never coldly measured production. I for one watched a good part of it through a mist of tears, not least when the extraordinary Kelli O'Hara, as Nellie Forbush, cut loose with an almost dangerously emotional rendition of "A Wonderful Guy." The key lyric for her--and for me as I recall this moment, which snuck up on me and knocked me over--would have to be, "And you will note/There's a lump in my throat." Um, yeah.

In related news, I spoke to Danny Burstein, the production's charming Luther Billis, for TDF.

(Photo by Joan Marcus.)

1 comment:

Esther said...

Oh wow, I loved it, too. I think the score is beautiful, the set was dreamy, and Kelli O'Hara was wonderful. I loved "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair." I was especially moved by the coda at the end. I'm afraid that a lot of people get up to leave and don't even read it, thinking it was the same James Michener quote from the beginning. But it just draws everything together so beautifully.