Perhaps the most popular musical of the times is story not about a far away made up place like Oz or a biography of a pop group from the ‘60s, but of the theater of war in the Pacific in World War II.
It is perhaps a testament to the consciousness of the American people that as the political and world conflicts take a greater toll on our lives, that we mimic that presence with an awareness that extends to our entertainment.
South Pacific could not have chosen a better time for a revival. The story of a nurse from Arkansas who must learn to accept her new lover’s past interracial relationship that has yielded two children and a solder waiting to embark on a secret mission behind enemy lines who has a decision to make with the new romance to an island girl hits many chords with the public.
The impending doom and travesty of war and its toll on the human condition, physically and mentally, and the questions it forces everyone to ask about their beliefs and the consequences of their actions is undeniable in this production.
While people buying Wicked tickets may be able to ignore the transference of ill-conceived judgment based on skin color or where people are from, the issue is nakedly at the forefront of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 Tony Award winning musical.
Nurse Nellie Forbush must make decision in the face of the possible loss of life when she decides whether to accept that the local French plantation owner, Emile de Becque, has had two children with a Polynesian woman. There is no ignoring this issue. It is the subject of song and dance in this stage masterpiece.
There is no tossing aside the decision Lt. Joe Cable must make when he knows he must leave for a life-threatening mission after falling for Liat. He knows that if he marries her, then his dangerous mission affects another life other than his own.
The musical brings race and war to every audience member’s mind. The additional development in which Barrack Obama, a multi-racial individual, has successfully become the first non-white person to win the presidential election makes this story even more appropriate.
The world has changed. Mixed-race children are no longer hid, but there is still a great deal of racism that must be overcome and it became an issue that took on more than the topic of affirmative action in a debate. Now the United States of America has entered a new age and these racists thoughts that showed there insidious head during the election.
South Pacific has long been a prized story by theater lovers and now it has a new national audience that is face with the questions and dangers regarding prejudice in the real world context. The musical now serves as a reminder of how far we have and have not come in the land of the free.
Find South Pacific tickets to see the powerful show live and do more than just read about it.