Monday, August 23, 2010

South Pacific on Tour

A performance of South Pacific on stage from the Lincoln Center in New York was carried on one of our PBS stations this week. I recorded it, then watched it all the way through Saturday night. I had forgotten how much I love this story and its Rodgers and Hammerstein music.

Adapted from James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, the production features song lyrics full of meaning and lessons, just as relevant today as they were in the World War II time period of the story.

Those lyrics speak of love found some enchanted evening, racial prejudice that you have to be taught, and the dreams you must have if you ever want to have a dream come true. And who doesn't dream of having a Bali Hai, your own special island?

This production was the first Broadway revival of South Pacific and played to huge crowds since its March 2008 opening. It won seven Tony awards in 2008. The Lincoln Center web page for this musical has a slide show of photos from the performances. The last Lincoln Center evening was scheduled for August 22, 2010.

The production is now on tour. If you've never seen it, you're missing a wonderful show. I hope the tour is expanded to include a theater near me. I would go again and again.

I doubt James Michener ever imagined his Tales of the South Pacific (which won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for fiction) as a stage or movie musical when he first wrote the book. But don't we all, maybe in one tiny corner of our minds, think our books would make great movies? And don't we all imagine who would play the main character?

Take it a step further. What comes to mind when you think of your main character (or the main character of a popular novel) starring in a musical? Can you imagine your characters singing and dancing?


Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - Oh, that is a great musical! Thanks for reminding me of it : ). I have to say, I can't imagine my characters singing and dancing - I really can't. I write crime fiction, and it just doesn't make that "jump" to the musical for me. But maybe I'll write a mystery where a musical production in my protagonist's setting ends up in murder....

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Not seen the musical, but I love the book. In fact, I love all Michener's books because his characters are so believable.

Jan Morrison said...

I have written several musicals - 'Mrs. Finney's Hat', 'Death,the Musical', 'Shroom, the last musical' and 'Fields of Crimson'. All of them were written as musicals but some of the best musicals in the world came from bizarre places - 'Sweeney Todd'(story of mass murderer), 'Little House of Horrors'(based on a B horror movie), 'Sunday in the Park with George'(the life of pointilist Surrat) 'Westside Story'(Romeo and Juliette). The book I'm writing now I can't imagine as a musical but I might borrow your idea for a Friday Challenge if you allow me. It might stretch how we think of our characters if we knew they'd have to sum up their inner thoughts in songs! Musicals are fun to write - I don't write the music and I always write them with a gang of four (two of us on book and two on lyrics and music). Jan Morrison

welcome to my world of poetry said...

My favourite musicals were Oklahoma and Carousel, both had the same stars though I saw them as a child I did buy the dvds later on in life, to me they are part of my life and the music was great.

Have a lovely day.

Karen Walker said...

I'd been dying to see this revival of South Pacific, but didn't happen. I was ecstatic when my local PBS station showed it last night live from Lincoln Center. It was magical. And you're right, the story still holds up, 60 years later.

Kay said...

No. I can't see either my Half-Elven or my gargoyles cavorting in a muscial.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot -- but think Guys & Dolls -- when I first read Damon Runyan characters, I never imagined them singing and dancing. It only takes a great playwright, an amazing composer, and an incredible lyricist. Piece of cake! :)

Rayna -- If you can rent the movie, it's pretty good, but I thought the original with Mary Martin better than the remake. A filmed stage version is even better.

Jan -- how did I miss the fact that you've written musicals? Have you had them all produced? I'm such a fan of musicals that I'll go to all kinds of trouble to see one live. I'm so lucky that we have two dinner theaters, a few tiny theater venues, and a Lincoln Theater of our own that's undergoing renovation. Tour performances of My Fair Lady, Porgy and Bess, and Jesus Christ Superstar were some I've seen in the last few years.

Yvonne -- I also love Oklahoma and Carousel. Oh, heck, I love them all from Call Me Madam to Kiss Me, Kate, to Kismet, to Phantom of the Opera. Great entertainment.

Hi Karen -- I'm so glad you had a chance to see this Lincoln Center performance. It was well-filmed.

Kay -- I know you have more imagination than that? If leprechauns and Oompa Loompas can sing and dance, so can elves and gargoyles. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I love musicals! Always have. I think it started when I saw the Wizard of Oz as a kid.

I actually can imagine my steampunk as a musical - great sets! One of the characters creates musical instruments and sings so it would be a perfect fit :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Jemi -- I also loved Wizard of Oz. The one show I haven't seen yet that I really want to is The Lion King.

Terry Odell said...

Saw mostly movies, not stage productions (although I do remember going to see Hair!) We were at a conference in Oklahoma and one event was going to an outdoor theater production of all the musical numbers. And another meeting in Germany took us to a German adaptation of West Side Story -- that was interesting.

N. R. Williams said...

This is one of my favorite musicals too, Pat.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Ann Best said...

I HAVE wondered if my MC, and book, could be dramatized on screen, but not singing or dancing.

I finally watched the DVD I bought sometime back thinking Jen would like it too. She did. And I loved it too, the Glenn Close movie version of South Pacific. In 1959 I wore out the record of the music from the Mitzi Gaynor version, but I like the Glenn Close version so much more! South Pacific is one of my all-time favorites; like you, I love the music. I had most of them memorized back then when I was 19!!!