South Pacific is an epic musical romance by Rodgers & Hammerstein about love and conflict during World War II. It originally premiered on Broadway in 1949 and by the time it closed in 1954, it was the second-longest running musical in Broadway history.
The story follows American nurses and sailors stationed on a Pacific island during the war. Ensign Nellie Forbush, a self-ascribed “hick” from Southern USA, is falling in love with Emile de Becque, a French expat living on the island. Nellie is optimistic about their future, but their relationship hits an unexpected bump. She discovers he has two mixed-race children from his late Polynesian wife and is unable to overcome her deep-seated racial prejudices. Meanwhile, Lt. Joseph Cable enters a passionate relationship with Liat, a local Polynesian islander. He too finds it difficult to overcome how their love might be received back home. He describes how racism isn’t born in you – that it happens after you’re born – in the song “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”.
South Pacific is revered for its message of tolerance and humanism, making it still resonate strongly. “The high-energy story carries both humour and sadness, which is the essence of any good musical,” said the director of the show, Kyla Thorburn. “It delves into questions about love, war, what is worth living for, and culturally embedded bigotry – questions still relevant today.”
South Pacific is running at the ArtsCape Opera House from 20 July – 10 August 2019.
Tickets available at Computicket