Dear Readers,

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

South Pacific @Lincoln Center

My absolutely disgustingly intense adoration for the golden age of Broadway musicals is somewhat out of keeping with my other, at least somewhat hipper tastes. My life-partner recently marveled at a particular early-90s pop culture phenomena of which I was ignorant . I explained that while all the other kids were getting their first taste of MTV, I was still putting kerchiefs on my Barbie Dolls and having them dance around and sing "Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof.

Anyway, no other musical has meant more to me than South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein's best (imo) collaboration, about culture clash and love on an island during World War II. The way the show confronts racial prejudice so head on in the pre-Civil Rights era, as well as its unforgettable music, just vault it into the top tier of its genre (waayy better than the overrated Sound of Music, which was probably pretty good before it became a shmaltzified kiddie film). An old scratchy and wonderful South Pacific cast record with Mary Martin and Ezio Pina was literally the soundtrack to my youth. Just hearing the notes makes me tear up. Here the two stars are singing 'Some Enchanted Evening." His voice obviously rocks--he was an opera star--but hers is so compelling and gorgeous. If you recognize it, it's cause she's Peter Pan!

Of course, these unbelievably talented singers weren't cast in the film cause they weren't "pretty enough" so the decent-to-good movie version featured Mitzi Gaynor instead. She's aight I 'spose, but her voice doesn't have the warmth of Martin's. Still, aren't Hammerstein's lyrics, particularly in the intro, amazingly clever?

I saw the remarkable revival last night at Lincoln Center. It's been getting total raves all over the NY press. Ben Brantley called it "perfect" and the audience last night was just totally enraptured for all three hours. The female lead, Kelli O'Hara, was last seen sexing up the stage in the Pajama Game with Harry Connick Jr (yes, the last musical I saw/blogged on Broadway.) She is a complete wonder, a real old-school, spunky, physical, honey-toned bombshell of an actress. Last night's show was one of the best three hours of non-Springsteen entertainment ever. I was so absorbed in it I forgot about the shitty shitty election.

Here is the final video of the day: O'Hara giving Connick a serious run for his money at the Tony's:

1 comment:

  1. Me too, is all I can say. The scratchy record of South Pacific was the soundtrack to my youth, too, and all subsequent versions still don't sound quite right to me without the skips in the right places.

    I read the Brantley review and am jealous you got to go, but glad that it stood up to the stern gaze of a fellow devotee.

    I watched the Glenn Close/Harry Connick version not long ago, and was amazed by how much I liked it. Worth checking out, if your haven't seen it yet.