“South Pacific” premiered on Broadway more than six decades ago. And this is the 13th production put on by the Music Circus.
So how do you keep a show like this fresh, when most of the audience knows it inside and out? By sticking to the fundamentals in this story about love and war in paradise and by delivering polished, energetic performances.
Broadway crooner John Cudia makes the most of his big romance opportunity in the classic love anthem, “Some Enchanted Evening.”
The song comes straight out of the Viennese operetta tradition, and Cudia has the classical training to bring it off with style.
Then there’s the famous number, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” sung by a group of chatty off-duty hospital nurses, lounging around in swimsuits. Notice how the tune pivots from girl-group energy, a la The Andrews Sisters, to a bluesy testimonial. Actress Beth Malone radiates feisty feminine appeal, as she did playing Annie Oakley here three years ago.
Another musical style in “South Pacific” is what you might call Polynesian fantasy…a gentle, lilting melody invoking colorful sunsets with shimmery strings, cascading flutes, and heavenly harp, as heard in “Bali Ha’i.”
The vision of “your own special island” was incredibly popular when “South Pacific” premiered. Today it’s more than a bit dated, but the story about people trying to find love and happiness in a fast-changing world still resonates. And this handsome production casts a very seductive spell.
The Music Circus production of “South Pacific” plays at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in Sacramento through Sunday, July 27, 2014.
Check out NPR's story about the 2008 Broadway revival of "South Pacific"
And here's a 2014 NPR story about the song “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” (from “South Pacific”)