Thursday, June 25, 2009

The.Best.American.Musical.Play... EVER!

I'm a big, ol' musical queen. And I've seen a ton of big, ol' musicals over the years. I was even IN a few of them, in college and community theaters, along the way. I'd always thought I'd seen 'em all, and knew 'em all.

Well, I'm here to tell ya, I didn't know jack-shit.

I saw "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center on Tuesday night, and I'm here to tell you, it is the best American musical play, ever.

It beautifully captures the mood of a robust, vigorous nation at war, a country flexing both it's impressive muscles and it's small-town naivete. Yes, it also has bald-faced capitalism (Billis), bald-faced racism (Lt. Cable and Nellie Forbush), worldy sophistication (de Beque) and altruistic heroism (Cable and de Beque).

This show is loaded. Mostly with America, warts and all, with a smattering of ex-patriate France, just the way we all were in the 40's.

The overture starts, as many B'way overtures do these days, small and tinny, sounding more like it's being played on a synthesizer across the street at Juilliard, until... the music builds and builds to the crescendo in the midst of the "Bali Hai" section when, suddenly, like a giant wave pulling back from the shore, the entire stage floor swiftly retracts upstage to reveal an entire Broadway orchestra, the way B'way orchestras used to be ... BIG. 25 or 30 seats, at least. Only then did I really appreciate the lushness of the Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations and the true value of Rogers' brilliant score.

I'm sorry for waxing ecstatic over it, but I was just blown away by it. The cast is great, not a miscue among them. The sets and costumes are perfect and not overdone.

If you see nothing else on Broadway, this year, or ever, by all means go see "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center.


~ Sil in Corea said...

OooOoo!!! Lucky You! Growing up in the wilds of Maine, all we had were recordings. But I sure do remember how the overture built to the soaring "Bali Hai" excerpt like a skylark flying to infinity. Wonderful for you and for a new generation to see what is really a marvelous package of American history and social commentary. [Daring to confront bigotry was really a brave act in the 1940s theater.]
Hugs from Corea, ~ Sil

Alan said...

South Pacific has always been one of my favorite shows. I was in an amateur production as a teenager and have seen community and dinner theater productions. I would love to be able to see it on the big stage.

JoyZeeBoy said...

I never knew how all-American the show really is. All the themes of heroism and altruism, greed and racism, packed into 2 hours and 30 minutes (with intermission).

It's just such an amazingly well-constructed piece -- I'm still blown away by it.

I'm glad you guys agree with me about it. I may be crazy, but at least I'm in good company :-).

JoyZeeBoy said...

Oh, yeah, and romance. Let's not forget the romance.