South Pacific

A CONCORD THEATRICALS TITLE

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

Music by Richard Rodgers / Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II / Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan / Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener

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

Photo: Joan Marcus

South Pacific
License Estimator

Use this tool for cost estimates based on your specific needs.

OVERVIEW

  • 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! Ten 1950 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Libretto, and Best Original Score
    Winner! 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    Winner! Five 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

Description
Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile's proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, the strapping Lt. Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Tonkinese girl with whom he's fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe's life, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, 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 South Pacific island during World War II, two children of Polynesian and European descent, Ngana and Jerome, happily sing as they play together ("Dites-Moi"). Ensign Nellie Forbush, a naïve U.S. Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, has fallen in love with Emile de Becque, a middle-aged French plantation owner, though she has known him only briefly. Even though everyone else is worried about the outcome of the war, Nellie tells Emile that she is sure everything will turn out all right ("A Cockeyed Optimist"). Emile also loves Nellie, and each wonders if the other reciprocates those feelings ("Twin Soliloquies"). Emile expresses his love for Nellie, recalling how they met at the officers' club dance and instantly were attracted to each other ("Some Enchanted Evening"). Nellie, promising to think about their relationship, returns to the hospital. Emile calls Ngana and Jerome to him, revealing to the audience that they are his children, unbeknownst to Nellie.

Meanwhile, the restless American Seabees, led by crafty Luther Billis, lament the absence of available women – Navy nurses are commissioned officers and off-limits to enlisted men. There is one civilian woman on the island, nicknamed "Bloody Mary", 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. Billis and the sailors further lament their lack of feminine companionship ("There Is Nothing Like a Dame").

U.S. Marine Lieutenant Cable arrives on the island from Guadalcanal, having been sent to take part in a dangerous spy mission whose success could turn the tide of the war against Japan. Bloody Mary tries to persuade Cable to visit a special island called "Bali Ha'i." Billis, seeing an opportunity, urges Cable to go. Cable meets with his commanding officers, Captain George Brackett and Commander William Harbison, who plan to ask Emile to help with the mission because he used to live on the island where the mission will take place. They ask Nellie to help them find out more about Emile's background, for example, his politics and why he left France. They have heard, for instance, that Emile committed a murder, and this might make him less than desirable for such a mission.

After thinking a bit more about Emile and deciding she has become attracted on the basis of little knowledge of him, Nellie tells the other nurses that she intends to end her relationship with him ("I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair"). But when he arrives unexpectedly and invites Nellie to a party where he will introduce her to his friends, she accepts. Emile declares his love for Nellie and asks her to marry him. When she mentions politics, he speaks of universal freedom, and describes fleeing France after standing up against a bully, who died accidentally as the two fought. After hearing this, Nellie agrees to marry Emile. After he exits, Nellie joyously gives voice to her feelings ("I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy").

Cable's mission is to land on a Japanese-held island and report on Japanese ship movements. The Navy officers ask Emile to be Cable's guide, but he refuses their request because of his hopes for a new life with Nellie. Commander Harbison, the executive officer, tells Cable to go on leave until the mission can take place, and Billis obtains a boat and takes Cable to Bali Ha'i. There, Billis participates in the native ceremony, while Bloody Mary introduces Cable to her beautiful daughter, Liat, with whom he must communicate haltingly in French. Believing that Liat's only chance at a better life is to marry an American officer, Mary leaves Liat alone with Cable. The two are instantly attracted to each other and make love ("Younger Than Springtime"). Billis and the rest of the crew are ready to leave the island, yet must wait for Cable who, unbeknownst to them, is with Liat ("Bali Ha'i" Reprise). Bloody Mary proudly tells Billis that Cable is going to be her son-in-law.

Meanwhile, after Emile's party, Nellie and he reflect on how happy they are to be in love (Reprises of "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy," "Twin Soliloquies," "Cockeyed Optimist" and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair"). 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 ("Some Enchanted Evening" Reprise).

Act II

It is Thanksgiving Day. The GIs and nurses dance in a holiday revue titled "Thanksgiving Follies." In the past week, an epidemic of malaria has hit the island of Bali Ha'i. Having visited Bali Ha'i often to be with Liat, Cable is also ill, but escapes from the hospital to be with her. Bloody Mary, delighted that Liat and Cable are spending more time together, encourages them to continue their carefree life on the island ("Happy Talk") and urges them to marry. Cable, aware of his family's prejudices, says he cannot marry a Tonkinese girl. Bloody Mary furiously drags her distraught daughter away, telling Cable that Liat must now marry a much older French plantation owner instead. Cable laments his loss ("Younger Than Springtime" Reprise).

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", yet it is an ingrained part of their upbringing ("You've Got to Be Carefully Taught"). He also 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 that he has nothing to lose, he 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 of Cable's death and that Emile is missing. She realizes that she was foolish to reject Emile because of the race of his children's mother. Bloody Mary and Liat come to Nellie asking where Cable is; Mary explains that Liat refuses to marry anyone but him. Nellie comforts Liat. 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. While the children are teaching her to sing "Dites-Moi," suddenly Emile's voice joins them. Emile has returned to discover that Nellie has overcome her prejudices and has fallen in love with his children. Emile, Nellie and the children rejoice ("Dites-Moi" Reprise).

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1940s / WWII
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Setting:

South Pacific takes place on two islands in the South Pacific during World War II.

Specific Locations:
The Terrace of Emile de Becque's Plantation
Home Another Part of the Island
The Edge of a Palm Grove Near the Beach
The Company Street Inside the Island Commander's Office
The Beach Inside a Native Hut on Bali Ha'i
Near the Beach on Bali Ha'i
A Performance of 'The Thanksgiving Follies'
Backstage at 'The Thanksgiving Follies'
The Radio Shack

Casting

3f, 7m, 1girl(s), 1boy(s)
Cast Attributes
  • Multicultural casting
  • Roles for Children
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

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.

Casting Notes

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.

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Medium
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 I
Clarinet II
Bassoon
Horn I
Horn II
Horn III
Trumpet I
Trumpet II
Trumpet III
Trombone I
Trombone II
Tuba
Harp
Violin I
Violin II
Viola
Cello
Bass
String Synth (Optional)

Percussion
Trap Set
Timpani
Bells
Marimba
Xylophone
Vibraphone
Oriental Tom-Tom

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.

Materials

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:

30 Libretto Vocal-Book
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
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 String Synth (Optional)

Two Piano Version:
30 Libretto Vocal-Book
1 Piano-Conductor
2 Two Piano Arrangement (Act 1)
2 Two Piano Arrangement (Act 2)


Piano Only:
30 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor


A full score is available for an additional fee. Please contact your licensing representative for additional information.


Media

Press

“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

Music Samples

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

  • South Pacific

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • South Pacific

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • South Pacific

    Credit: Joan Marcus

More

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 lights of Broadway, London and beyond. He was ...

View full profile

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 and his grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein, ...

View full profile

Joshua Logan

JOSHUA LOGAN 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, Morning's At Seven, Higher and Higher, Charley's Au ...

View full profile

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 such monumental best-sellers as ...

View full profile

Now Playing

Community Experiences