The Broadway Musical South Pacific

Tom Burke  took this photo of the Nā Pali coast of Kaua'i, Hawai'i on September 3, 2004. Makana Mountain, in the background, is said to be the inspiration for Bali Ha'i in the musical South Pacific.
Tom Burke took this photo of the Nā Pali coast of Kaua'i, Hawai'i on September 3, 2004. Makana Mountain, in the background, is said to be the inspiration for Bali Ha'i in the musical South Pacific. | Source
This is a low resolution image of the cover for James A. Michener’s collection of short stories, “Tales of the South Pacific,” covered by the fair use doctrine under US copyright law.
This is a low resolution image of the cover for James A. Michener’s collection of short stories, “Tales of the South Pacific,” covered by the fair use doctrine under US copyright law. | Source

James A. Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific"

In 1947, James A. Michener published a collection of short stories called Tales of the South Pacific.

Michener had been a lieutenant commander in the US Navy during World War II. The book is a selection of anecdotes he collected while stationed on Espiritu Santo, one of the islands in the New Hebrides chain—now known as Vanuatu.

This book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948.


Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein II's "South Pacific"

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II based their musical South Pacific, which opened in 1949, upon several of the stories in Michener’s book. Rodgers wrote the music and Hammerstein wrote the lyrics. Both Hammerstein and Joshua Logan wrote the book—the story upon which the production was based.

South Pacific was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. It also received 10 Tony Awards that year, among them Best Musical, Best Actor—Musical, Best Actress—Musical, Best Featured (Supporting) Actor—Musical, and Best Featured (Supporting) Actress—Musical. South Pacific is the only Broadway musical to have received all four acting awards.

1958 Film Version of "South Pacific"

South Pacific was a huge success. Many traveling companies of the musical toured the United States. In 1958, a film version was produced. I've seen the film version several times. The video which follows includes several songs from the 1958 movie.

Songs from the 1958 Film Version of "South Pacific"

This is a low resolution image of the DVD cover for the 2005 concert version of South Pacific, covered by the fair use doctrine under US copyright law. Pictured are Alec Baldwin, Reba McEntire, and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
This is a low resolution image of the DVD cover for the 2005 concert version of South Pacific, covered by the fair use doctrine under US copyright law. Pictured are Alec Baldwin, Reba McEntire, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. | Source

2005 Concert Version of "South Pacific"

In June 2005, a concert version of South Pacific was presented at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Some of the dialogue was cut in order to keep the run time at two hours, but none of the songs and no parts of the musical score were deleted. Among the stars appearing in the concert version were Alec Baldwin, Reba McEntire, and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

The concert was filmed for public television and was first shown on TV in April 2006. Videos of three of the songs follow.

I have seen this wonderful production a number of times. If you have an opportunity to view the entire public television production of "South Pacific," please don't hesitate to do so.

Reba McEntire: "I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair."

John Schuck and Reba McEntire: "Honey Bun"

2008 "South Pacific" Revival on Broadway

In 2008, a revival of South Pacific was presented on Broadway. That production received seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival.

The Controversy Surrounding "South Pacific"

South Pacific takes place during World War II. There are two main story lines. One story line involves a young nurse in the US Navy, Nellie Forbush, who is stationed in the South Pacific. Nellie falls in love with an expatriate middle-aged Frenchman, Émile de Becque .

The two plan to marry, until Nurse Forbush learns that Émile's wife had died, and he has two mixed-race children. Nellie struggles with accepting Émile's children.

The second story line involves US Marine Corps Lieutenant Joseph Cable who falls in love with a beautiful French Polynesian woman, Liat. Lt. Cable struggles with the prejudice he will face in the United States if he marries the woman he loves.

Joseph Cable sings You've Got to Be Carefully Taught, a song about interracial marriage. In 1949, this song was considered to be too controversial for the American stage. Some people felt the song was pro-communist and indecent.

When one of the touring companies of South Pacific was in the southern United States, a bill was introduced in the Georgia legislature outlawing any form of entertainment which had anything to do with communists and Russia. One Georgia legislator said that a theatrical performance involving interracial marriage was a threat to the American way of life.

Rodgers and Hammerstein refused to take You've Got to Be Carefully Taught out of their musical. They said that the song was an integral part of the production, and it was going to remain.

Matthew Morrison and Paulo Szot

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Comments 40 comments

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

South Pacific is one my all-time favorite musicals! I've seen the movie several times and have seen the play reenacted on stage. Now, reading your article, I'm already humming one of the songs and will probably have, "Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" running through my head all day! I never realized that the song, "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" was ever considered controversial, but I'm glad that Rogers and Hammerstein stood their ground on leaving it in the play!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Stephanie,

Thanks for reading my article and being the first person to comment.

I've heard it said many times that the sign of a good musical production is when members of the audience walk out of the theatre humming or singing one of the songs. I think that happens a lot with South Pacific. The production has some great songs in it.

Regarding the song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," the musical opened on Broadway in 1949, at a time when both race relations and communism were viewed differently in the United States than they are now. Perhaps that had something to do with some people viewing the song as controversial. Rodgers and Hammerstein stated that they didn't care if their production was a failure...they weren't going to cut the song from it.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

I love those old musicals that are befrore my generation and on top of it I discovered them later because of the language barrier. I think I was born at the wrong time because I love books and movies of those times. The great thing with DVDs is that I can go back in time and watch them!

I am glad that Rodgers and Hammerstein kept the song. I am in a choir and we sing their songs on a regular basis. Our choir goes in nursing homes in December and April and those people grew up with those songs and you can see that it brings back memories. It's just great!

Thanks Daisy for this nice article!

Voted up and awesome!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Joelle (kidscrafts),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading and commenting in my article. I appreciate your support of my writing.

Thanks, too, to your choir for going to nursing homes twice a year and entertaining the residents with your beautiful singing.


joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 3 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Hi there, now I have the tunes running through my mind and I can't stop it! As I'm an oldie, I heard recordings and saw the movie way back when!

This was a good read and brought back lots of pleasant memories! Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting. Also shared! Have a good day!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Joan (joanveronica),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub. It's a great feeling, knowing that my writing brings back pleasant memories for my readers!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Never watched the movie, but I wish I did. I'm listening to the music. Rodgers and Hammerstein always good. Thanks for sharing.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

MsDora,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

If you have access to a large video store, you'll probably be able to rent a copy of the 1958 movie.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 3 years ago from Orange County, CA

Well, Rodgers and Hammerstein were right, given how often their musical is played nowadays, even in high school. I heard they were making a new movie of it. Anyway, I love the musical, especially that controversial song. But then, I'm also a minority, so understand the sentiments in it better than a senator from Georgia would. Voting this Up and Interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio (alocsin),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I've seen both the 1958 movie and the 2005 concert version a number of times. I don't seen anything controversial about "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught." I hadn't realized there had been any controversy until I did my research for the article.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Aw...my dad and I love this film. I have not seen it in a long time or seen the broadway show. Great researched hub and I love the videos. Thanks for the memories.


Laurinzo Scott profile image

Laurinzo Scott 3 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

Ten Tony awards in one year is wonderful... I haved loved musicals every since in childhood I was forced to sit and watch them with my grandmother... I really didn't want to watch them; it was just being near her that mattered

Eventually I began to love them too the movie musical from 1958...one of the best

Really fun to watch... some of the youngsters don't know what they are missing


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glimmer Twin Fan,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I'm glad you like the 1958 film. The 2005 concert version of the musical is wonderful, too. You ought to see if you can get a copy of it.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Laurinzo,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. South Pacific has received so many awards! I'm glad Rodgers and Hammerstein stood their ground on "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught." I wonder if the production would have won so many awards if that song had been deleted from the show.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I remember the film version was so popular when it came out with my sisters. They talked about for months. You did a marvelous job of reviewing this artistic film and musical. Voted up!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreciate youe kind words.

It's wonderful that the popularity of South Pacific has endured for more than 50 years. If you ever have a chance to see the 2005 concert version, don't pass it up. Reba McEntire is a terrific Nellie Forbush.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I too have seen the movie more than several times. Everything about South Pacific is epic...the writings of Michener, Rogers and Hammerstein, and the wonderful actors who have played the characters make this a masterpiece. Controversy over the movie was a sign of the times and added to the 'controversy' in the movie/musical. Nice job Daisy and I LOVE the opening photo. I'm sure you've introduced some young folks to South Pacific.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (tillsontitan),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I have a photo of the Nā Pali coast of Kaua'i (which I took from a boat) that closely resembles scenes from the movie. It's a panoramic non-digital shot which didn't look "right" when I scanned it, so I'm glad I found the photo on Wikimedia Commons which I used at the top of my Hub.

The 2005 concert version of South Pacific has appeared on television a few times. If you haven't already done so, I hope you see it the next time it's shown.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

Daisy,

I enjoyed reading this detailed descriptions of South Pacific. I had never heard of the musical or the film. Your review prompted my interest.

Thanks


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Vinaya,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I know how much you enjoy musical theatre productions. I hope you're able to find a copy of the movie version. The film is not to be missed.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Daisy,

I grew up with the soundtracks of many R & H musicals in my home... my sister and I even had piano music books with some of these very songs that we learned from.

This hub gave a backstory that I was completely shielded from and it is strange that the song: "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" is brand new to me... I wonder if it was excluded from the music books...

I am going to look out for this show that I have honestly never seen. My all-time favorite song from ths musical is: "Some Enchanted Evening".

So detailed and well-written as is your style, thank you. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Maria (marcoujor),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I appreciate your very kind words about my writing.

Thanks, too for sharing your anecdote. World War II ended a few short years before the musical opened on Broadway. The film was in the theatres less than 10 years later. The romance between Lt. Cable and Bloody Mary's French Polynesian daughter was considered controversial. I saw the film a number of times. I thought the portrayal of the romance was beautiful.

I hope you find copies of both the 1958 film and the 2005 concert version. Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell are terrific in the concert version. It's been on television a few times.

Have you ever seen the old television program "My Favorite Martian?" I've seen some episodes on a cable television station featuring classic TV. Take a look at the image in the film clip I provided of the 1958 film. Do you see the man in the open blue denim shirt? That's Ray Walston, the actor who portrayed Uncle Martin, the Martian.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I remember Some Enchanted Evening and Happy Talk.......but not You've Been Carefully Taught, for understandable reasons. Thanks for sharing this gem, Daisy. Glad to connect with a fellow musical lover!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Michelle (midget38),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreciate your continued support of my writing.

Taken in the context of the production, "You've Been Carefully Taught" is a beautiful song.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

South Pacific is a favorite of mine. The music is just outstanding. I used the video of the song, "You've Been Carefull Taught" in my Hub on racial discrimination. I'm glad that song was left for the musical.

Voted UP, and will share.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (mary615),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreicate your continued support of my writing.

It would have been a shame if "You've Been Carefully Taught" had been deleted from the musical. I'm glad the production compny stood their ground.


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 3 years ago from Upstate New York

South Pacific was the first professional musical production I ever saw when I was a kid. My uncle was an actor, and he was in a production of the show that was travelling around the country to different regional theaters. My whole extended family went, which was quite a feat, as I have a huge family. It was fun to see my uncle on stage, and it lit the fire for my passion and love for the theater. I saw it again two years ago when it came to the area I live in. It is a wonderful show. Voted up and sharing. :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I have seen the film of South Pacific many times and when I was a high school sophomore our music department put on this as their Spring play. It was a wonderful performance. I have always loved this movie and play because of the lesson it teaches. The Rogers and Hammerstein music is beautiful and the setting in the South Pacific is gorgeous. This is such a delightful hub and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks so much for writing this and bringing back such wonderful memories. Voted up!


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

Oh, this brings back such great memories! I played Nellie Forbush in our high school drama club's presentation of South Pacific. It was so much fun! Thanks for the memories!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Donna (donnah75),

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

How exciting that a large group of your family members got to see your uncle perform! I've seen the movie version of South Pacific a number of times, but I've never had the good fortune to see a live theatrical performance.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

We just watched the 1958 movie again a few months back, it was still great!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Suzannah (suzettenaples),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I'm glad my Hub brought back such pleasant memories for you.

South Pacific has won so many well-deserved writing and acting honors. I'm glad Rodgers and Hammerstein refused to take You've Got to Be Carefully Taught out of their musical. What would the production have been like if they had caved in?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

TimeTraveler2,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment.

Nellie Forbush is a great role which incorporates both acting and singing. I'm glad you had the opportunity to play Nurse Forbush while in high school.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jim (xstatic),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment.

Have you seen the 2005 concert version of South Pacific? We've seen it on television two or three times. I would imagine it's available to rent. Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell are surprisingly good.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

No, I have not seen that one, will have to look for it. There is a fabulous made for PBS version of Company available on Netflix, filmed live on stage.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jim (xstatic),

Thanks for stopping by again. I appreciate the tip about Company. I'll have to put it on my "to rent" list.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I used to swim here while living on Kauai - what a stunning photo this is! Really enjoy reading this hub. I've seen South Pacific many times and have worked with vocalists in the production. Haven't seen Reba yet. Thanks Daisy!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audrey (vocalcoach),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub. Of all the Hawaiian islands I've visited, Kauai is the most beautiful.

I've seen the June 2005 concert version of South Pacific on television a few times. I'll bet it's available as a DVD. Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell are terrific.


Mike Nolan profile image

Mike Nolan 20 months ago from Sarasota, FL

I played Billis about 5 years ago. I relished the opportunity to research the Construction Battalions (or Seabees!) and learned so much about those unsung heroes of the Pacific Theatre. I worked with a great costume designer to get the uniforn right and still have my Seebee patch.

My father served in the Navy in Vietnam and I honored him by copying his tattoos (an anchor and a spider) for my character.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 20 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mike,

It's nice to meet you. Welcome to HubPages. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I appreciate your sharing your anecdote with us, including the way in which you honored your father.

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