Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

AN R&H THEATRICALS TITLE

Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Full-Length Musical, Drama  /  3f, 7m, 1girl(s), 1boy(s)

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener

In an island paradise during the Second World War, two Americans - a wide-eyed nurse and a promising young lieutenant - discover love and confront their own prejudices.

Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3f, 7m, 1girl(s), 1boy(s)
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult, Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13), Teen (Age 14 - 18)
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    Winner! Ten 1950 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Libretto and Best Original Score
    Winner! Seven 2008 Tony Awards, incuding Best Revival of a Musical
    Winner! 2008 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical
    Nominee: Three 2012 Olivier Awards, including Outstanding Musical Production

Licence details
  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

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Details

Summary
On a South Pacific island during World War II, Ensign Nellie Forbush, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with French planter Emile de Becque. When Nellie learns that the mother of Emile's children was an island native, she refuses Emile's proposal of marriage, unable to overcome the prejudices with which she was raised. Meanwhile, the strapping Lt. Joe Cable falls in love with a Tonkinese girl named Liat, but he, too, denies himself a future due to the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile accompanies Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe's life, Nellie chooses to embrace a future with Emile and his children, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices.
History

Based on Tales of the South Pacific, James Michener’s collection of short stories, South Pacific opened on Broadway at the the Majestic Theatre on April 7, 1949, starring Mary Martin, Ezio Pinza and Juanita Hall. South Pacific received the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and for the first time the committee included a composer in the drama prize. The show received ten Tony Awards (including Best Musical), a Grammy Award and countless other accolades. For years the second-longest running show in Broadway history (right behind Oklahoma!), South Pacific returned to Broadway in a celebrated 2008 revival starring Kelli O'Hara and Paolo Szot. The show has proven itself a classic in countless productions around the world and was adapted onscreen in the 1958 film starring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor and in a 2001 made-for-television film starring Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr.

Act I

On a terrace in the South Pacific during World War II, two Polynesian children, Ngana and Jerome, sing a simple song in French (“Dites-Moi”). As they’re playfully chased inside by a house attendant, French plantation owner Emile de Becque escorts Nellie Forbush, a nurse from Arkansas, on a tour through his estate. Nellie admires the view of the sun over the ocean. Even in times of darkness, she can’t help but express her naturally bright disposition (“A Cockeyed Optimist”). Nellie confides in Emile that she joined the Navy to see the world and to meet new people. As they get lost in each other’s eyes, Emile breaks away to pour them a brandy, leaving them to consider one another, separately (“Twin Soliloquies”). After polite small talk about French literature, Emile confesses his love for Nellie, recalling the dinner just two weeks prior when he first noticed her (“Some Enchanted Evening”). Just before Nellie leaves to return to work, Emile reveals tthat he left France because he killed a man there, and she trusts him when he tells her that it was justified. Ngana and Jerome return, and Emile joins their playful singing (“Dites-Moi” Reprise).

Across the island, the restless American Seabees, led by crafty Luther Billis, lament the absence of female company. The one civilian woman on the island, nicknamed “Bloody Mary”, is a sassy middle-aged Tonkinese vendor of grass skirts who engages the sailors in sarcastic, flirtatious banter as she tries to sell them her wares (“Bloody Mary”). Billis yearns to visit the nearby island of Bali Ha’i – which is off-limits to all but officers – supposedly to witness a Boar’s Tooth Ceremony (at which he can get an unusual native artifact). The other sailors josh him, saying that his real motivation is to see the young French women there (“There is Nothin’ Like A Dame”).

Lieutenant Joseph Cable arrives, looking for Emile de Becque. Bloody Mary ominously describes what he might find on a mysterious island just visible through the clouds (“Bali Ha’i”). Though Cable initially brushes off Billis’ eager suggestion that they take a boat out, the Lieutenant does show an interest in witnessing a described “Ceremonial of the Boar’s Tooth” on the forbidden island.

Captain George Brackett emphatically accuses Bloody Mary of causing “an economic revolution” on the island because her business practices are more favorable to native workers than those of French settlers. Unwavering in the face of his aggression, she calls the French farm owners “stingy,” and the Captain orders the men to throw her souvenir cart off Navy property.

Cable tells Brackett and Commander Harbison about a mission to spy on the Japanese from their islands. Before Cable sneaks his way there, he must recruit an ally for help, someone who knows the country well. With Emile in mind, Cable, Harbison and Brackett call Nellie into their office to ask her to find out the Frenchman’s political leanings, and to learn why he killed a man before fleeing his home country. Nellie realizes she doesn’t know that much about him. Alone, the officers estimate Cable’s spy mission can last no longer than a week before he is found out by the enemy.

Lt. Cable stumbles upon Nellie reading a disapproving letter from her mother. Recalling his own familial differences back home, Cable explains that he, too, was misunderstood for taking a path less traveled (“My Girl Back Home”).

Out by the showers, the other nurses ask Nellie what Captain Brackett wanted. She tries brushing their questions off by announcing she is intent on ending her relationship with Emile for good (“I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair”). Just then, Emile arrives, inviting her to a dinner party he’s throwing to introduce her to his friends and cohorts. She uses the opportunity to ensure that Emile believes in American ideals – that every man is created equally. He also tells her about the man he killed in France when he was much younger – a tyrant who overtook his town leaving its citizens powerless. He asks her to marry him (“Some Enchanted Evening” Reprise) and, disregarding her earlier promise to wash him right out, she agrees to come to his dinner. Hearing her friends giggling about how quickly she defied her own mantra, she surrenders to the love she can no longer deny (“A Wonderful Guy”).

Capt. Brackett warns Emile that, should he agree to aid Lt. Cable in his spy mission, he may not survive, but it could potentially do great good for America in this region. To Cable’s disappointment, Emile thoughtfully declines. Harbison suggests that Cable take a few days to unwind, so Cable decides to take Billis up on his suggestion of a boat trip to the exotic paradise (“Bali Ha’i” Reprise). On Bali Ha’i, Bloody Mary introduces Cable to her young and beautiful daughter, Liat. In a native hut, the two spend a night together and Cable confesses his love for her (“Younger Than Springtime”). Bloody Mary proudly tells Billis that Cable is going to be her son-in-law.

Meanwhile, after Emile’s party, an enthusiastic Nellie decides to stay with Emile that night, despite needing to sneak back to the camp and return the Jeep that Billis had borrowed for her. After a night of champagne, the two are ecstatically in love (“This Is How It Feels”). Emile introduces Nellie to Jerome and Ngana. Though she finds them charming, Nellie is shocked when Emile reveals that they are his children by his late first wife, a dark-skinned Polynesian woman. Nellie is unable to overcome her deep-seated racial prejudices and tearfully leaves Emile, after which he reflects sadly on what might have been (“Finale Act I”).

Act II

It is Thanksgiving Day, and the GIs and nurses dance in a holiday revue titled “The Thanksgiving Follies” (“Dance”). Emile arrives, bearing flowers for Nellie, who is onstage emceeing the lively event. Billis, promising to deliver the flowers, tells Emile that Nellie requested a transfer to another island. Meanwhile, Lt. Cable is determined to make his way back to Bali Ha’i, where he’s been visiting Liat daily, despite being treated for a serious case of malaria.

Liat arrives with Bloody Mary, who announces that Liat is being sought after by a rich white man on another island. She urges Lt. Cable to marry her daughter, elaborately describing the good life the two would have together (“Happy Talk”). Cable, disturbed in his sickness, gives Liat his watch, which was once his grandfather’s, and decides he cannot marry her. Bloody Mary leaves with Liat, angrily claiming she will marry Jacques Barrere.

For the final number of the Thanksgiving Follies, Nellie performs a comedy burlesque dressed as a sailor singing the praises of “his” sweetheart (“Honey Bun”). Billis plays Honey Bun, dressed in a blond wig, grass skirt and coconut-shell bra.

After the show, Emile asks Nellie to reconsider. She insists that she cannot feel the same way about him since she knows about his children’s Polynesian mother. Frustrated and uncomprehending, Emile asks Cable why he and Nellie have such prejudices. Cable, filled with self-loathing, replies that “it’s not something you’re born with”; it was an ingrained part of their upbringing (“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”). Cable vows that, if he gets out of the war alive, he won’t go home to the United States; everything he wants is on these islands. Emile imagines what might have been (“This Nearly Was Mine”). Dejected and feeling he has nothing to lose, Emile agrees to join Cable on his dangerous mission.

The mission begins with plenty of air support. Offstage, Billis stows away on the plane, falls out when the plane is hit by anti-aircraft fire, and ends up in the ocean waiting to be rescued; the massive rescue operation inadvertently becomes a diversion that allows Emile and Cable to land on the other side of the island undetected. The two send back reports on Japanese ships’ movements in the “Slot,” a strategic strait; American aircraft intercept and destroy the Japanese ships. When the Japanese Zeros strafe the Americans’ position, Emile narrowly escapes, but Cable is killed.

Nellie learns that Cable has died and Emile is missing. Distraught, she goes to the beach and reflects regretfully on her choices in their relationship. She realizes she loves Emile and was foolish to reject him due to the race of his children’s mother (“Some Enchanted Evening” Reprise). Bloody Mary brings Liat to Nellie, saying that Liat refuses to marry anyone but Lt. Cable. Nellie walks them off to break the news of Cable’s death.

That evening, the Marine troops ready themselves in position to take responsive action against the Japanese. Cable and Emile’s espionage work has made it possible for a major offensive, Operation Alligator, to begin. The previously idle fighting men, including Billis, go off to battle.

Nellie spends time with Jerome and Ngana and soon comes to love them. One afternoon on the terrace at Emile’s house, as the children teach Nellie to sing “Dites-Moi,” Emile’s voice suddenly joins them. Emile appears to discover that Nellie has overcome her prejudices and has fallen in love with his children. Emile, Nellie and the children rejoice (“Finale Ultimo”).

ENSEMBLE:
Large singing ensemble consisting of Islanders, Officers, Sailors, Marines, Seabees* and Soldiers

CHARACTERS:
Ensign Nellie Forbush – a nurse from Arkansas
Emile De Becque – an expatriate French plantation owner
Ngana – Emile’s young, half-Polynesian daughter
Jerome – Emile’s young, half-Polynesian son
Henry – Emile’s native servant
Bloody Mary – a Tonkinese native, expert at trading with the military men
Liat – Bloody Mary’s daughter
Bloody Mary's Assistant
Luther Billis – a sailor, Seabee*
Abner
Stewpot (Carpenter's Mate Second Class, George Watts)
Professor - a sailor
Lt. Joseph Cable, United States Marine Corps
Capt. George Brackett, United States Navy – The highest ranking officer
Cmdr. William Harbison, United States Navy – The second-highest ranking officer
Lt. Buzz Adams
Yeoman Herbert Quale – a sailor
Radio Operator Bob McCaffrey – a sailor
2 Seabees*
2 Sailors
3 Marines
A Shore Patrolman
Lead Nurse (originally named Lt. Genevieve Marshall)
Ensign Dinah Murphy
Ensign Janet MacGregor
7 Ensigns
Islanders, Officers, Sailors, Marines, Seabees* and Soldiers

CASTING NOTE:
The story takes place in the South Pacific during World War II. The cast includes Americans and people native to the South Pacific. Those characters native to the area should be cast accordingly. The use of make-up or prosthetics to alter an actor’s ethnicity is prohibited.

*Seabees are sailors who serve in the Construction Battalion (hence their acronym, C.B.). They are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the bases and their equipment.

  • Time Period 1940s / WWII
  • Setting Two islands in the South Pacific during World War II.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Media

“Magnificent... as lively, warm, fresh and beautiful as we had all hoped it would be.” – Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times

“Few Broadway musicals can match the songs of South Pacific for their beguiling tunes and meaningful lyrics. Whether addressing such varied subjects as love at first sight, race prejudice or lost possibilities, they speak a rare yet simple language.” – Los Angeles Times, January 01, 1949

“This is the ultimate modern blending of music and popular theatre to date, with the finest kind of balance between story and song, and hilarity and heartbreak.” – William Hawkins, New York World-Telegram, January 01, 1949

“The Lincoln Center revival of this old chestnut is surely the most unexpected cultural sensation the city has experienced in a while.” – Frank Rich, The New York Times, May 25, 2008

“It's hard to resist the WWII love story and the stirring Rodgers and Hammerstein score.” – Entertainment Weekly, January 01, 2001

Videos

  • South Pacific Through Time and History

  • SOUTH PACIFIC - 2008 Tony Performance

  • SOUTH PACIFIC on David Letterman

  • Some Enchanted Evening' from SOUTH PACIFIC (1958)

  • Cockeyed Optimist from SOUTH PACIFIC

More videos +

Photos

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2002 National Theatre Production (Tristram Kenton)

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

    Image: 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

More photos +

Music

Music Samples

Act I

1. Overture - Orchestra
2. "Opening (Dites - Moi)" — Ngana and Jerome
3. Music Under Scene — Orchestra
4. "A Cockeyed Optimist" - Nellie
5. "The Scene Continues" — Orchestra
6. "Twin Soliloquies" — Nellie and Emile
7. "Unspoken Thoughts" — Orchestra
8. "Intro: Some Enchanted Evening" — Orchestra
9. "Some Enchanted Evening" — Emile
10. "Encore: Some Enchanted Evening" — Emile
11. Finaletto — Scene I ('Dites-Moi' Reprise) — Ngana and Jerome
12. "Bloody Mary" — Sailors, Seabees and Marines
13. "There Is Nothin' Like A Dame" — Billis, Stewpot, Professor, Sailors, Soldiers, Seabees, Bloody Mary

14. "Mary and Lootellan" — Orchestra
15. "Bali Ha'i" - Bloody Mary, Billis
16. "Cable Hears 'Bali Ha'i'" — Cable
17. "Change of Scene" — Orchestra
18. "Company Street" — Orchestra
19. "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" — Nellie, Nurses
20. "Nellie's Encore: I'm Gonna Wash That Man" — Nellie
21. "Intro: Some Enchanted Evening (Reprise) — Nellie, Emile
22. "Reprise: Some Enchanted Evening" — Nellie, Emile

23. "Intro: Wonderful Guy" — Orchestra
24. "I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy" — Nellie, Nurses
25. "Encore: I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy" — Nellie, Nurses

26. "Introduction Scene 9" — Orchestra
27. "Girl's Reprise of Bali Ha'i" — French Girls
28. "Younger Than Springtime" — Cable, French Girls
29. "Reprise: I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy" — Nellie, Emile
30. "The is How it Feels" — Nellie, Emile
31. "Emile's Encore: I'm Gonna Wash that Man" — Emile
32. "Finale Act I" — Emile


Act II

33. "Entr'acte" — Orchestra
34. "Opening Act II" — Orchestra
35. "Entrance of Liat" — Orchestra
36. "Happy Talk" — Bloody Mary
37. "Incidental (after 'Happy Talk')" — Cable
38. "Honey Bun" — Nellie and Ensemble
39. "You've Got to be Carefully Taught" — Cable
39a. "You've Got to be Carefully Taught Continued" — Emile

40. "Incidental Bridge" — Orchestra
41. "This Nearly Was Mine" — Emile
42. "After Emile's Solo" — Orchestra
43. "The Take Off" — Orchestra
44. "Communication Established" — Orchestra
45. "Communication Discontinued" — Nellie, Brackett, Nurses
46. "Operation Alligator" — Orchestra
47. "Incidental" — Men, Nurses
48. "Finale Ultimo" — Nellie, Emile, Ngana and Jerome

49. "Exit Music" — Orchestra
Flute (Doubling Piccolo)
Oboe (Doubling English Horn)
Clarinet 1
Clarinet 2
Bassoon
Horn 1
Horn 2
Horn 3
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1
Trombone 2
Tuba
Harp
Percussion (Trap Set, Timpani, Bells, Marimba, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Oriental Tom-Tom)
Violin 1 (divisi)
Violin 2 (divisi)
Viola (divisi)
Cello (divisi)
Bass
String Synthesizer (Optional)

DIVISI NOTE: In the original Broadway pit of SOUTH PACIFIC there were 2 players on Violin A, 2 players on Violin B, 2 players on Violin C, 2 players on Violin D, 3 Violists, 2 Cellists, and 1 Bass player.
  • Musical StyleClassic Broadway
  • Dance RequirementsModerate
  • Vocal DemandsModerate
  • Orchestra SizeLarge
  • Chorus SizeMedium

Materials

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!

30 Vocal Books
1 Piano-Conductor
1 Flute/Piccolo
1 Oboe
1 Clarinet 1
1 Clarinet 2
1 Bassoon
1 Horn 1
1 Horn 2
1 Horn 3
1 Trumpet 1
1 Trumpet 2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Tuba
1 Percussion
1 Harp
2 Violin 1
2 Violin 2
2 Viola
2 Cello
1 Bass
1 String Synthesizer (Optional)
1 Logo Pack 

Additional Material:
A Full Score is available for this title for an additional fee. Please contact your licensing representative for additional information.

Additional song "My Girl Back Home" is available for an additional fee. Please contact your licensing representative for additional information.

Piano Only:
30 Vocal Books
1 Piano-Conductor
1 Logo Pack

Two-Piano Arrangement:
30 Vocal Books
1 Piano-Conductor
2 Two-Piano Arrangement (Act 1)
2 Two Piano Arrangement (Act 2)

Additional song "My Girl Back Home" is available for an additional fee. Please contact your licensing representative for additional information.

Authors

Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers' contribution to the musical theatre of his day was extraordinary, and his influence on the musical theatre of today and tomorrow is legendary. His career spanned more than six decades, his hits ranging from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright light ...

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Oscar Hammerstein II

Oscar Hammerstein II was born on July 12, 1895 in New York City. His father, William, was a theatre manager and for many years director of Hammerstein's Victoria, the most popular vaudeville theatre of its day. His uncle, Arthur Hammerstein, was a successful Broadway producer ...

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Joshua Logan

Joshua Logan (1908-1988) was born in Texarkana, Texas and was one of the foremost men of stage and screen – a director, writer, and producer whose list of hits is awe-inspiring. His stage directorial credits included On Borrowed Time, I Married an Angel, Knickerbocker Holiday ...

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James A. Michener

James A. Michener (1907-1997) graduated from Swarthmore College and continued his studies at many institutions at home and abroad. His first book, Tales of the South Pacific, was published when he was forty. In the course of the next forty-five years Mr. Michener would write ...

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