There’s really nothing quite like watching one’s first Broadway musical – and I’m so glad mine was the multiple Tony Award winning revival of South Pacific held at the initimate, cosy Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. I’m not quite sure if I would have felt just as much magic in one of those slick modern pyrotechnic ones held in mammoth venues like Lion King or Wicked. South Pacific was really just right…in a lovely intimate space where I could smell the cigarette smoke from Lt. Joe Cable lighting up on stage even at the back row and all childhood favourite tunes that I used to sing myself to sleep as a kid.
I remember loving most of the tunes when I watched South Pacific as a wee lass though for some strange reason, I did not like the operatic, French-accented singing of “Some Enchanted Evening” and would fast forward that scene during my repeated viewings of the musical. This time, however, watching it on stage, with all the emotional nuances that only top-class live performances can convey, my heart just melted.
During the interval, an elderly woman in front of me at the toilet queue sniffed to her friends, “It’s so lovely – these are the songs I grew up with, the love songs when I had crushes at 16. And it’s like hearing them all over again!”
My old-fashioned soul couldn’t have said it better. And because I’m just so keen about spreading my musical lurve – here’s my favourite South Pacific song “Wonderful Guy” for y’all or you can see a South Pacific medley at the Tony Awards here.
“It went straight to my head, my heart. I had to sing it, right that moment. I sat down on the piano bench next to Dick [Richard Rodgers] and began ‘I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love,’ getting more and more excited, singing full speed ahead, waving my arms around. Finally I got to ‘with a WONDERFUL GUYYYYY’ and finished it – and clunk, fell right off the piano bench onto the floow. Dick Rodgers turned his head, looked down at me rather solemnly, and said, ‘Never sing it any other way’.” – Mary Martin (Nellie in the 1st Broadway cast of 1949)