South Pacific
South Pacific
Music by Rodgers, Richard | 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
Set in an island paradise during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. 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.
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News for South Pacific

Broadway star Derek Klena puts a modern twist on the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic song “Younger Than Springtime" from SOUTH PACIFIC for R&H GOES POP! read more
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization announced today it is presenting a new video series titled “R&H Goes Pop!” on the Rodgers & Hammerstein YouTube channel which can be seen here. read more
Impossible things are happening every day and today we are thrilled to announce that we are giving our amazing fans the chance to win two (2) tickets to the R&H production of their choice! Visit to enter the Rodgers & Hammerstein Fan Sweepstakes today! read more
“I’ve got a bottle of Canadian Club in the room.  Come on up and have a drink.” Not exactly words you would automatically think of coming from Peter Pan or Maria von Trapp.  But come they did, from Mary Martin.  She had just received the first Richard Rodgers Award from the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, which had been celebrated at a fantastic garden party in one of Pittsburgh’s posh neighborhoods.  I took a ride back to the hotel with the honoree, and that’s what she said to me as the car pulled up to the William Penn Hotel.  The answer was simple – “Sure.”  So up we went – Mary Martin, her assistant Susan Grushkin, and me.  And out came the Canadian Club.  read more

It turns out that Melbourne, Australia, longs to be the third global capital of musical theater. In fact, Jeff Kennett, a Premier of the state of Victoria, in which Melbourne lies, announced early in his term that he wanted Melbourne to become ‘the third point of a cultural triangle for musical theater’ after New York and London.
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Trivia for South Pacific

Oscar Hammerstein II wrote to book collaborator Josh Logan on their work SOUTH PACIFIC, "Last night, the audience behaved like a large group of people who had all met somewhere else and said, 'Let's all go over to the Majestic Theatre and get drunk.' ?In some way, we have combined all man's emotions into that play so that the reactions are somewhat like the combination of a big football game and a bull fight and grand opera and tragedy and comedy...Now I'm drunk!"""
Did you know? In James Michener?s original novel, ?Tales of the South Pacific,? Nellie comes from fictional town of Otolousa, Arkansas ? rather than Little Rock, Arkansas, as she does in the musical. Either way makes for quite a difference to Marseilles, France, where her love interest Emile de Becque originates.
Did you know? In SOUTH PACIFIC, Joe Cable sings "Younger Than Springtime"" to Liat, his partner in an unexpected romance. Rodgers & Hammerstein made no fewer than three prior attempts at writing this number. The third try, ""Suddenly Lucky,"" contained the lyrics ""Suddenly lucky / Suddenly to be together, / Suddenly owning / Happiness no gold can buy."" Although cut from SOUTH PACIFIC, Richard Rodgers was able to rescue the melody for THE KING AND I, where it became the iconic song ""Getting to Know You."""
In 1955 St. Louis Municipal Opera kicked off a six-week "Rodgers & Hammerstein"" festival featuring a symphony concert and productions of CAROUSEL, ALLEGRO, THE KING AND I, and SOUTH PACIFIC."
In 1954, SOUTH PACIFIC closed on Broadway after five years and 1,925 performances. Original cast member Myron McCormick, who played Luther Billis, lead the final-night crowd in "Auld Lang Syne,"" and in a symbolic gesture the curtain remained unlowered. As of its closing, SOUTH PACIFIC was the second-longest running show in Broadway history, right behind OKLAHOMA!"
In 1988, the first London revival of SOUTH PACIFIC opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Mary Martin, star of the original Broadway and London productions, attended this opening night and afterward told the press: "I have never seen the show before - not even the movie. It was a very special and touching experience."""
In 1957, principal photography for the movie of SOUTH PACIFIC began at Lihue on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The day chosen by James A. Michener to celebrate his birthday. Author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel "Tales of the South Pacific,"" Michener was adopted as a child, thus never certain of his birthdate. Michener grew up to serve during World War II as a navy publications officer on the island of Espiritu Santo. These experiences, which inspired him to write ""Tales of the South Pacific,"" also inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Joshua Logan to adapt the novel into the musical SOUTH PACIFIC. Combined success of the novel and musical allowed Michener to spend the rest of his life writing books."
In 1953, the national tour of SOUTH PACIFIC began a one-week engagement at the Tower Theatre, Atlanta. In response to the anti-racist song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught,"" members of the Georgia State Legislature issued a vehement protest and introduced a bill to outlaw entertainment works having ""an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow."""
In 1953 the second Broadway revival of OKLAHOMA! opened at City Center, where it ran for 40 performances before going on tour. It joined SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, and ME AND JULIET, already running on Broadway, and prompted New York City Mayor Vincent R. Impelliteri to proclaim "Rodgers & Hammerstein Week."""
In 1908, director Joshua Logan was born. He directed and collaborated with Rodgers & Hammerstein on the script for SOUTH PACIFIC, and directed the Broadway premieres of I MARRIED AN ANGEL, BY JUPITER, THIS IS THE ARMY, and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.
In 1949, the world premiere of SOUTH PACIFIC was presented at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven.
In 1958 Twentieth Century Fox released the movie version of SOUTH PACIFIC starring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor.
In 1954 General Foods sponsored a tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein broadcast on multiple networks. Hosted by Mary Martin and featuring segments from OKLAHOMA!, STATE FAIR, CAROUSEL, ALLEGRO, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I and ME AND JULIET with many members of the original casts, it also included special appearances from Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Ed Sullivan, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
In 1951, Mary Martin and Wilbur Evans starred in the London premiere of SOUTH PACIFIC, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and played for 802 performances.
In 1901, Juanita Hall was born in Keyport, New Jersey. She created the roles of Bloody Mary in SOUTH PACIFIC (1949; Tony Award) and Madam Liang in FLOWER DRUM SONG (1958). She then re-created both roles for their film versions (1958 and 1961, respectively).
In 2008 the Lincoln Center Theatre revival of SOUTH PACIFIC opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, where it ran for 996 performances and won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Direction.
In 1950 at the 4th annual Tony awards, SOUTH PACIFIC won eight, including Best Musical of the Year and a clean sweep of the four acting categories - a feat unparalleled in Tony history.
The birthday of Walter Bobbie, director of FOOTLOOSE (the stage adaptation) and co-author of its book. Bobbie also directed the musical WHITE CHRISTMAS, and the 2005 concert version of SOUTH PACIFIC starring Reba McEntire.
In the second act of SOUTH PACIFIC, Joseph Cable convinces Emile de Becque to go on a reconnaissance mission as part of Operation Alligator, the tactical assault on the Japanese Navy. Did you know that Operation Alligator is based on real-life Operation Galvanic, the WWII attack on Tawara that began on this day in 1943? Character Joe Cable would have been one of 1,677 U.S. troops to die in action.
Did you know? In SOUTH PACIFIC, Nellie performs ?Honey Bun? for the troops during the Thanksgiving Follies. Imagining this scene, Rodgers & Hammerstein took creative license with history: During Thanksgiving of 1943 the real men and women serving in the area would have been involved with Operation Galvanic as part of the Battle of Tarwara.
In 1950 the national tour of SOUTH PACIFIC opened at the Hanna Theatre, Cleveland, and toured for five years, visiting 118 cities before closing at the Chicago Opera House on March 26th, 1955.
In 1913, Mary Martin was born in Weatherford, Texas. She created the roles of Nellie Forbush in SOUTH PACIFIC and Maria von Trapp in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, winning a Tony Award for each.
In 1950 SOUTH PACIFIC won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In 1955 SOUTH PACIFIC opened at New York City Center for a limited engagement.
In 1892 Ezio Pinza is born in Rome, Italy. He created the role of Emile de Becque in SOUTH PACIFIC (1949) and received the Tony Award for his performance.
In 1951, after more than 900 shows, Mary Martin gave her final performance in SOUTH PACIFIC on Broadway.
Hammerstein on his lyrics to "A Wonderful Guy"" in SOUTH PACIFIC: ""The emotion expressed in this song is so simple that it can afford to wear the decorations and embroidery of more ingenious rhyming. There is no subtle philosophy involved. A girl is in love and her heart is sailing. She is sentimental and exuberant and triumphant in the discovery. The job of the lyric is to capture her spirit."""
Did you know? When the original production of SOUTH PACIFIC was being staged, Oscar Hammerstein II taught star Mary Martin a clog dance for the number ?Honey Bun,? which her character Nellie performs at the troops? Thanksgiving Follies.
In 2005 Carnegie Hall hosted a live concert of SOUTH PACIFIC, starring Reba McEntire as Nellie, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Emile, and Alec Baldwin as Luthur.
Did you know? In a 1987 studio cast recording of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, opera stars sang the leads, with Eileen Farrell as the Mother Abbess, and Hkan Hagegrd as the Captain. The role of Maria was sung by Frederica Von Stade (b. 1945) an American opera singer highly lauded for her mezzo-soprano voice, and known for performing The Barber Of Seville, The Merry Widow, Pelleas Et Melisande and . This recording was part of a trend to create ?cross-over? albums featuring opera singers performing traditionally musical theatre roles. SHOW BOAT, SOUTH PACIFIC and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN were among the shows to receive this treatment.
Did you know? Ezio Pinza was known for his operatic voice. After 22 seasons at the Met, Pinza retired and signed a contract with producer Edwin Lester for $25,000. Lester however had no show, but Rodgers and Hammerstein did ? SOUTH PACIFIC ? and when Pinza expressed enthusiasm in participating, the team took over his contract.
Did you know? When SOUTH PACIFIC premiered in 1949, World War II was very much engraved in the public memory. Even some of the original Broadway castmembers playing servicemen had fought in the war. When Oscar Hammerstein had trouble writing for military voices, he turned to his oldest son William (who served as a boatswain in the South Pacific) and to director Josh Logan (who spent 4 years in the Army).
SOUTH PACIFIC opens with lovers Emile and Nellie enjoying the view on a tropical plantation. Yet did you know that originally, Act One, Scene 1 began with satirical lyrics that pitted Joe Cable's brave army lieutenant against Commodore Bill Harbison's oblivious company man? "We have other important men / But nobody counts as much / As the modern executive type / With the organizational touch!"""
Did you know? In James Michener?s original novel, ?Tales of the South Pacific,? the tale of Ensign Nellie Forbush and her love interest Emile de Becque (?Our Heroine?) is only one of the many stories, but Rodgers, Hammerstein and Logan decided to make this story central to the musical. They incorporated other stories as subplots, including ?Fo? Dolla,? ?A Boar?s Tooth? and ?Operation Alligator.?
Did you know? When Mary Martin learned she would play opposite the opera star Ezio Pinza in SOUTH PACIFIC she was surprised: ?Good Lord! What will you do with two bassos??

 Press for South Pacific

  • Interviews
  • Quotes
The Lincoln Center Theater Review, March 01, 2008
Interview with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ED: Was there a particular discovery in the design process of South Pacific that opened the work up? 
BS: The diagonal we discovered brings an energy and a dynamism to everything. We were really struggling with the design, which was very symmetrical, and then suddenly when we threw it on a diagonal it almost started to stage itself. 
ED: And will the set pieces be automated? 
BS: There won't be as much of that. The floor itself is automated, but because the island is occupied a lot of it will be pushed on by hand, by the Seabees. 
MY: It feels very Brechtian, in a funny way. 
BS: If it's a little too slick and a little too automated, it's going to lose that out-at-the-edge-of-the-universe quality. 
ED: What are you doing now? 
MY: We had a bid session two weeks ago. 
ED: What is a bid session? 
MY: Everything that's going to be on that stage has to have a price put on it. So we take all the drawings that were made from the rough models and invite shops to come to Lincoln Center and bid on them. Everyone's very poker-faced. You talk about each plate of drawings, and you answer their questions as they assess how you want things built or painted. Then they go away, and for about two weeks you're bombarded with logistical questions. Today my heart is in my throat-we're waiting for the prices to come in. Usually they come in at two or three times what you have to spend. 
ED: It's sort of like hiring a contractor. 
MY: Exactly. The process is good; it makes you reexamine every piece. It makes the design much more concise. Then we go through everything with Jeff Hamlin, who's the production manager, and Paul Smithyman, his associate, and we talk about which shop is going to be able to do what. 
ED: Do the shops ever come back with different ways of building something? 
MY: Totally. As a set designer, you really only convey what you want something to look like; you're not telling them how to build it. So the drawings themselves have a lot of character-Billis's laundry unit's got a washing machine with suds that flop around and spill out, and it has its own springs. And the shops love that. They give us a lot of feedback about how things should be built. Several of them said to me, "Oh, this is going to be so much fun. We really want to do this." And it's great when you get that kind of response.
ED: It's like you've designed a house, and all the furniture. Did you always want to be a set designer? 
MY: I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and every spring the Metropolitan Opera would come through on tour. In the fourth grade, I had a fantastic music teacher who would go to the offices of the Met and bring back posters of the shows. She would paper the classroom with them and tell us cleaned-up stories of the operas, and then she would take us to matinées. I lived for those springs when the Met would come through. I'd see everything. And our teacher would have us make little shadow boxes of scenes from the opera in shoeboxes. And I'm still doing it. (Laughs) My mother still has some of them. I was obsessed. Opera News would feature whatever opera was being broadcast on the radio on Saturdays, and I would listen and look at the pictures of the sets in the magazine. I'd copy them and then I'd make them better. I loved it. Dallas was an amazing place to be at that time. Lawrence Kelly, who founded the Dallas Civic Opera, brought this unknown Italian director, Franco Zeffirelli, to Dallas. And Zeffirelli directed La Traviata with Maria Callas. I saw that; she was truly extraordinary. It was life-changing. 
ED: How did you find your way to the East Coast? 
MY: Well, there were the Dallas summer musicals, which were performed in the same theater as the operas. I think they did six or seven musicals for two weeks every summer. And these were full-blown productions, designed mainly by a Yale graduate who lived in Dallas, Peter Wolf. He had a fantastic shop. He was a wonderful designer for musical comedy. So I would usher, and I'd watch those shows fourteen times. I would sit in the balcony. It's where I first sawSouth Pacific and Brigadoon. My father and I went to see Peter, but he couldn't hire me since his shop was unionized. So I asked him what I should do to pursue set design, and he said, "Go get a good liberal-arts education. Don't go into it now. Study art, study architecture, English, theater, history. Then go to the Yale School of Drama, where I went, and study set design with Donald Oenslager." I went to a small school, Stetson University, in Florida. I was a terrible student. But they did have a good, small theatre program and a junior-year-abroad program. So I studied in Spain and traveled around, seeing as much opera and theater as I could. The other day I found a program from a Rigoletto that I saw at La Scala. I didn't realize at the time what I was seeing, but the list of singers included Luciano Pavarotti. This was back in the sixties. It was an incredible time. Everyone should leave the country for a time and study abroad; it completely changes the way you think about things and the way you perceive your own country. I came back and applied to Yale, and spent a year teaching at a high school in Florida that had just been integrated. We did Spoon River Anthology, and I directed and designed it with the kids. It brought the black and white factions together, and so when I was accepted at Yale I almost didn't go, because I felt like I was really doing something there. I loved teaching. 
ED: Years ago, this magazine published an article by Arthur Levine, the president of Teachers College, Columbia University, who said the only two parts of academia that are truly integrated are theater and sports. 
MY: That's absolutely right. It was wonderful to watch these kids. They were completely separate until we did the tryouts. But they got to know each other, and by the end they had bonded. And I thought, Wow. This is what theater can do. 
ED: As we sit here today, at the same time as you're immersed in creating South Pacific you're also in the theater every night, in technical rehearsals watching another set of yours, the one forCymbeline. After you've watched your set come to life-after the load-in where the trucks pull up, and the crews come, and they build it all, and you watch your house being built-you still don't go away? 
MY: No! No! I think the most terrifying moment for a designer-and maybe I'm alone in this-is when the set finally arrives on the stage. I work very closely with the master carpenter-here it's Bill Nagle, who's fantastic. Long before the sets hit the stage, we have to work out where everything hangs, how everything has to move so pieces don't collide with each other. Then, I try to stay away from the load-in process because when they're bringing in scenery things get banged and broken. When they're ready, I try to come in for the first time from the lobby, the way the audience will. And I think, Is this going to work? It takes a bit of time for everyone to get used to the fact that it's not a model anymore and that it's bigger than they thought, or smaller than they thought. It is like a house. You have to move into it and learn to be able to get up in the middle of the night and find the bathroom without turning a light on. You have to know how to live in it. And then, as you go through the technical rehearsals-my favorite part of the process, besides the research-you're all in the same room and everyone's working on it. And then the actors come onto the space and make it their own. That's when the show comes to life. It's a miracle to me.

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

Musical Numbers for South Pacific

Song #
Song Name
Character Name
Other Versions

South Pacific History , January 01, 1970

The tale of SOUTH PACIFIC is as fascinating as the tales that inspired it. When director Joshua Logan suggested the idea of doing a musical based on James Michener’s collection of short stories, Tales of the South Pacific, to producer Leland Hayward, Hayward immediately saw its possibilities. Logan, who had already achieved great success in the post World War II theatre with his production of MISTER ROBERTS, saw a great dramatic potential in focusing on one corner of the vast world war that had just been fought. He conveyed his vision to longtime friend and collaborator, composer Richard Rodgers.

Rodgers though that several of the stories had strong dramatic potential, and his opinion was confirmed by his partner, librettist/lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II (who had also sought comments from his son William Hammerstein who had not only served as stage manager for Logan’s MISTER ROBERTS but had himself served with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during the war.) While Logan had originally intended to musicalize only one of the stories in Michener’s collection, “Fo’ Dolla,” it was Rodgers’ idea that they secure rights to the entire book to draw different characters and plot strands for their musical.

This turned out to be a wise move because, upon closer investigation, the romance at the heart of “Fo’ Dolla”—about a handsome American marine officer and the local island girl whose heart he breaks—was too close to Puccini’s MADAME BUTTERFLY to build an entire musical around (at least, such was the thinking in the days before MISS SAIGON.) So, while it was decided to make this the tragic subplot of the musical, another romance was needed to give SOUTH PACIFIC its dramatic structure. A story called “Our Heroine” seemed to be a better choice for a main plot and its unusual May-December romance was perfectly suited to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s penchant for writing to challenging situations. This story dealt with a romance between a middle-aged French planter, Emile de Becque, and Nellie Forbush, a young American nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas while also delving into the disturbing issue or racial intolerance and bigotry.

Casting the starring roles was comparatively easy. Ezio Pinza, the famed Metropolitan Opera basso, was anxious to appear in a Broadway musical and the part of Emile was perfectly suited for him. Mary Martin, who had impressed Rodgers and Hammerstein the year before with her fresh, down-home country appeal in the title role of the national tour of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, was their first and only choice for Nellie. Mary Martin, however, needed some coaxing; she was dying to appear in the musical, but nervous about co-starring with a talent as large as Ezio Pinza. “What do you want,” she reportedly quipped. “Two basses?”

But one hearing of the score convinced her. Knowing who they wanted for their leads, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the score for them. Thus, the two leads are never in musical competition with each other; in fact, rarely to they even sing a duet with one another (a gentle reprise of “Some Enchanted Evening” is the only exception, while their “Twin Soliloquies” are more complementary than competing.) Emile, the romantic European, is given such luxuriant, rolling numbers as “Some Enchanted Evening,” and “This Nearly Was Mine” while Nellie from Little Rock gets the infectious, brassy Broadway sounds of “Honey Bun,” “I’m In Love with a Wonderful Guy,” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.”

Although it had its share of problems, SOUTH PACIFIC enjoyed a comparatively smooth sail to Broadway via out of town tryouts in New Haven and Boston, Expectations were running high:  the director and the authors were at the pinnacles of their careers; the two stars each had fans in their own arenas and together promised to create a whole new following; and the subject matter hit home to an America still dealing with the giddy excitement and relief at having survived a second world war in less than half a century.

By the time it opened on Broadway SOUTH PACIFIC was already legendary, the major theatrical event of Broadway in its golden era. Astonishingly, this was one musical that not only managed to meet its hype, but actually to top it. “Magnificent,” cheered Brooks Atkison in the New York Times. “SOUTH PACIFIC is as lively, warm, fresh and beautiful as we had all hoped it would be.”

SOUTH PACIFIC received the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and for the first time the committee included a composer (Richard Rodgers) in the drama prize. It received eight 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!), it  has proven itself a classic in countless productions around the world and on the silver screen, where Rossan Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor took us to the enchanted South Pacific.

South Pacific Synopsis , January 01, 1970

On an island in the South Pacific during World War II, Nellie Forbush, a young Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, meets and falls in love with a gallant, middle-aged Frenchman, Emile de Becque. Emile is a planter and has lived on this particular island for twenty-five years. When he proposes to Nellie, he confesses that the reason he had to flee France was because he killed a man—the town bully whom no one else would stand up to. Nellie is able to accept this explanation and promises to consider Emile’s proposal of marriage.

Also stationed on the island is a group of restless sailors, Seabees and marines who are obviously bored and sorely in need of female companionship. Souvenir collecting is about the only active pastime and has developed into a healthy competitive marketing war between Seabee Luther Billis, who has cornered the market in everything from grass skirts to shrunken heads, and Bloody Mary, the local Tonkinese dealer in such trophies.

Lieutenant Joseph Cable, a handsome young Marine, arrives with an assignment to persuade de Becque, who is familiar with the nearby islands, to accompany him on a dangerous secret mission. Their task would be to hide out on a Japanese-held island, watch for enemy ships and convey this information to their own pilots, who would then use this first-hand intelligence to attack the Japanese convoys. Nellie’s friendship with Emile is known to the Island Commander and she is asked to obtain all the information she can about the circumspect Frenchman.

Meanwhile, Luther Billis has a mission of his own—to get over to the mysterious and forbidden island of Bali Ha’i—and he convinces Lt. Cable to lead a pleasure-seeking expedition there. On the island, Bloody Mary introduces Cable to her beautiful daughter, Liat, and the Lieutenant falls in love with her.

Confused about her feelings for Emile, Nellie decides to play it safe and announces steadfastly “I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair!” But Emile convinces her of his love, when he invites her to dinner at his home so that his friends may meet her, Nellie accepts and has a wonderful evening. Nellie is in love, and for the first time believes she and Emile could spend a wonderful lifetime together. Emile introduces her to two sweet native children, the off-spring of a Polynesian woman and a European. Nellie is charmed by the children but then, when Emile informs her that they are his, the prejudices and fear inherent in her mid-‘50s, small town upbringing rise to the surface and, panicked, she runs from Emile and from the future they had just planned.

At the same time Joe Cable, despite his deep love for Liat, is caught is a similar trap of his own prejudices and, though he loves her, decides he cannot marry her.

Both Cable and Emile are feeling the recklessness of lost love, and with that recklessness comes the willingness to take greater risks. They embark on their spy mission to a neighboring island where, for a few days, the plan works and they are able to transmit messages of Japanese naval maneuverings. Eventually they are discovered, however; Cable is killed, and a radio contact with Emile is cut off.

Faced with the sudden realization that she may have lost Emile, Nellie is able to put her fears and meaningless prejudices into perspective and realizes that her love for him and the things he stands for is paramount. She makes her way to his home and is feed lunch to his two children, whom she loves as her own, when Emile returns. He is weary, he is battle-worn, but he is alive, reunited with his children, and with Nellie.


Block, Geoffrey. The Richard Rodgers Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Ewen, David. Richard Rodgers. New York: Holt, 1957.

Ewen, David. With a Song in His Heart (Richard Rodgers). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.

Fordin, Hugh. Getting To Know Him: The Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Random House, 1977; Decapo Press, 1995.

Green, Stanley. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Story. New York: John Day, 1963; Decapo Press (Paperback), 1980.

Green, Stanley. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Fact Book. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 1980.

Hammerstein II, Oscar. Lyrics. Introduction by the author, Preface by Stephen Sondheim. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 1985.

Logan, Joshua. Josh. New York: Delacorte Press, 1976.

Martin, Mary. My Hearts Belongs (Autobiography). New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1976.

Michener, James A. Tales of the South Pacific. New York: Curtis Publishing House, 1946.

Michener, James A. James A. Michener Tells SOUTH PAFICIC. Illustrated by Michael Hague. New York: Harcourt brace Jovanovich, 1992.

Mordden, Ethan. Rodgers & Hammerstein. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1992.

Nolan, Frederick. The Sound of Their Music. New York: Walker, 1978; Applause Books, 2002.

Rodgers, Richard. Musical Stages: An Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1975; New York: Jove Paperback, 1978; DeCapo Press, 1995; (Revised Edition, 2002).

Taylor, Deems. Some Enchanted Evenings. New York: Harper, 1953.

Lincoln Center Theater Review - South Pacific, Lincoln Center Theater , March 01, 2008
Written By: Lincoln Center Theater

A series of wonderful articles and interviews compiled by Lincoln Center Theater.

Read More

Awards for South Pacific

Academy Awards (United States)

January 01, 1958 — 3 Nominations for Best Sound, Color Cinematography, and Best Music (Scoring)

New York Drama Critics Circle Awards (United States)

November 30, 1948 — Best Musical

Donaldson Awards (United States)

January 01, 1950 — 9 Awards including Best Musical, Book, Lyrics and Score

Theatre World Awards (United States)

November 30, 2007 — Loretta Ables Sayre
November 30, 2007 — Paulo Szot

Pulitzer Prize (United States)

November 30, 1950 — Drama

Drama Desk Awards (United States)

November 30, 2008 — Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Paulo Szot
November 30, 2008 — Outstanding Revival of a Musical
November 30, 2008 — Outstanding Director of a Musical - Bartlett Sher
November 30, 2008 — Outstanding Set Design - Michael Yeargan
November 30, 2008 — Outstanding Sound Design in a Play - Scott Lehrer
November 30, 2008 — Nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Kelli O'Hara
November 30, 2008 — Nominated for Outstanding Featured Actor - Danny Burstein
November 30, 2008 — Nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design - Donald Holder

Laurence Olivier Awards (London) (United States)

November 30, 2002 — Nominated for The Hilton Award for Outstanding Musical Production
November 30, 2002 — Best Actor in a Musical or Entertainment - Philip Quast

Outer Critics Circle Awards (United States)

November 30, 2007 — Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Paulo Szot
November 30, 2007 — Nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Kelli O'Hara
November 30, 2007 — Nominated for Outstanding Choreography - Christopher Gattelli
November 30, 2007 — Nominated for Outstanding Costume Design - Catherine Zuber
November 30, 2007 — Outstanding Director of a Musical - Bartlett Sher
November 30, 2007 — Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical - Danny Burstein
November 30, 2007 — Outstanding Revival of a Musical
November 30, 2007 — Nominated for Outstanding Set Design - Michael Yeargan

Tony Awards (United States)

November 30, 1949 — Best Scenic Designer - Jo Mielziner
November 30, 1950 — Best Actor (Musical) - Ezio Pinza
November 30, 1950 — Best Actor, Supporting or Featured (Musical) - Myron McCormick
November 30, 1950 — Best Actress (Musical) - Mary Martin
November 30, 1950 — Best Actress, Supporting or Featured (Musical) - Juanita Hall
November 30, 1950 — Best Director - Joshua Logan
November 30, 1950 — Best Libretto - Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
November 30, 1950 — Best Producers (Musical) - Produced by Leland Hayward, Oscar Hammerstein II, Joshua Logan and Richard Rodgers.
November 30, 1950 — Best Score - Richard Rodgers
November 30, 2008 — Best Revival (Musical) - Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Bernard Gersten, Bob Boyett
November 30, 2008 — Best Actor (Musical) - Paulo Szot
November 30, 2008 — Nominated for Best Actress (Musical) - Kelli O'Hara
November 30, 2008 — Nominated for Best Actor (Featured Role--Musical) - Danny Burstein
November 30, 2008 — Nominated for Actress (Featured Role--Musical) - Loretta Ables Sayre
November 30, 1950 — Best Musical - Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan. Produced by Leland Hayward, Oscar Hammerstein II, Joshua Logan and Richard Rodgers,

Vocal Range of Characters:

Photos for South Pacific

// Photos

Writers Notes for South Pacific

Notes on The Military

When SOUTH PACIFIC was first produced in 1949, audiences were largely familiar with the military aspects of the show.  The farther World War II recedes into memory, however, the more unfamiliar the rankings, ratings, machinery, behavior, and feel of wartime military behavior become.  By way of assistance we offer this brief guide to the military aspects of the show.

The characters in SOUTH PACIFIC have decidedly different ranks.  Captain Brackett is the highest ranking officer, followed by Commander Harbison.  They do not salute each other, but everyone else would salute either or both.  When Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison first enter, however, [Act 1, Scene 3] the men pretend to be preoccupied and do not salute.  This might bother the Captain if he weren’t so furious at Bloody Mary as not to notice.  Joe Cable is a Marine Lieutenant and, as such, merits a salute from the enlisted men which he would return with a salute.  He would also salute Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison.  When Cable first enters the men should rise to salute him, but Billis signals them to desist.  Luther Billis is a sailor who bullies, bribes, and charms his way through military life, although ultimately he always loses.  He has no respect for authority unless he is scared or wants something.
The enlisted men are rated, not ranked.  The ratings are Sailors, Marines, and Seabees and differ by their functions in way.  Sailors serve at sea, Marines are amphibious troops who serve both on ships and on land, and Seabees are sailors who serve in the Construction Battalion (hence their acronym, C.B.) and are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the bases and their equipment.  As the action of SOUTH PACIFIC takes place one step removed from the battlefront, there is a decidedly casual aspect to the enlisted men.  They are caught in a middle ground—not quite in the war, not quite out of the war.

As for equipment, a PBY was a slow but steady seaplane used mostly for reconnaissance.  Jerry cans are large metal rectangular cans to hold gasoline or other liquids, frequently seen strapped to the sides of jeeps.

Boston Post
Written By: Oscar Hammerstein II

Who creates a play?

I become more and more convinced that no writer creates anything, and no good writer tries. He knows he is an agent of the world he lives in, the world of his time and of centuries before his time.

What and who created this one musical play? The libretto derives from a book, Tales of the South Pacific, a group of stories which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. How did James Michener 'create' these? Out of his head? Out of a typewriter? No. It seems he had a job in the Navy, a roving job that flew him back and forth among the islands of New Hebrides and New Guinea groups. In these journeys he met people and found them in situations partly created by a world war. I say partly created because their reactions to these situations were determined by their characters, and their characters were moulded by their immediate environments and heredities and the history of religion and science and poetry up to the time they were born. Michener took actualities and realities and fictionized them into a group of stories, some amusing, some deeply romantic.

Next step in 'creation': Leland Hayward thought these stories would make a good musical play. Next step: so did Rodgers and Hammerstein. For three months Dick Rodgers, Josh Logan and I wrote nothing. We struggled with the problem of selection. There were so many stories we liked. We couldn't use them all. We finally settled on two. We borrowed a few of our favorite characters from some of the other stories, and our next job was to combine all these into one coherent narrative. It took us a year to make this adaptation. We cannot, however, say that our work was the end of SOUTH PACIFIC's creation, for the theatre is a place of complex mass collaboration, and anyone who seeks to claim the sole credit for any play is a blind egomaniac.

This play emerged as the combined work of the composer, the authors, the director, the designers, the stars and their supporting cast, and many more who must be included as sources of creation. After all these had contributed their talents and energies, the final factor in creation was the audience. An audience must apply its composite heart and mind to a play, create it as something it believes should exist or destroy it as something it believes should not exist. So when the curtain rose on the opening night, the circle was complete.

This tale of the South Pacific, taken out of the living world and crystallized into theatrical form, was offered back to the living world for approval.

from 'How 'South Pacific' Was Written'

Performance Tools for South Pacific

Lincoln Center Study Guide:
 PDF Study guide from Lincoln Center Theater's production of SOUTH PACIFIC.

AccompanEase: This product is a rehearsal tool that allows for unlimited teaching, training and practice of individual vocal parts or dance sequences. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information:, via email: [email protected], or via phone: 212-620-0774.

InstrumentalEase: This product is an orchestra enhancement instrument capable of augmenting a traditional ensemble of any size. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information:, via email: [email protected], or via phone: 212-620-0774.


This unique resource is designed specifically to meet the needs of productions that want convenient, cost-effective access to these hard to find keyboard sounds. We have carefully assembled all sounds required for a given show. Everything is laid out in correct sequential order, so you can easily progress through each song in each keyboard book with professional, authentic, show-specific sounds. All you have to do is connect any standard keyboard (or multiple keyboards) to your laptop and you'll be ready to perform. And we'll help you every step of the way.

Demo KeyboardEase for Mac or PC.

Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information:, via email: [email protected], or via phone: 212-620-0774.

RMS Mix®:
 RMS Mix® is a new app from Realtime Music Solutions that can be added onto your purchase of AccompanEase and InstrumentalEase and brings rehearsal and performance tools to your mobile devices. RMS Mix® syncs with AccompanEase and InstrumentalEase to allow your creative team, cast and instrumentalists access to rehearsal tracks on their own computer, tablet or smartphone. Customized changes made on AccompanEase and InstrumentalEase can be exported to the RMS Mix® app, so that rehearsing for your production is as easy as hitting play!

Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information:, via email: [email protected], or via phone: 212-620-0774.

Playbill VIP:

MAKE YOUR OWN PLAYBILL! Playbill VIP allows you to create your very own Playbill Program. We have provided Playbill with all of the credits, song listings, musical numbers and more so that most of the work is already done for you. Just add your productions details, photos of the cast and share it with all of your friends. Learn more:

Rental Materials for South Pacific


  • "My Girl Back Home" Orchestration (24 Books)
    • 1 –
    • 1 – FLUTE
    • 1 – OBOE
    • 1 – CLARINET I
    • 1 – CLARINET II
    • 1 – BASSOON
    • 1 – HORN I
    • 1 – HORN II
    • 1 – HORN III
    • 1 – TRUMPET I
    • 1 – TRUMPET II
    • 1 – TRUMPET III
    • 1 – TROMBONE I
    • 1 – TROMBONE II
    • 1 – TUBA
    • 1 – PERCUSSION (Xylophone and Timpani)
    • 1 – VIOLA (Divisi)
    • 1 – CELLO
    • 1 – BASS
    • 1 – HARP
    • 1 –
    • 1 – Violin II
    • 1 – Full Score
    • 1 – Synth
  • Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
    • 20 – Libretto-Vocal Books
    • 1 – Logo CD
    • 2 – Piano Conductor Score
    • Digital Logo
  • Two Piano Arrangement (2 Act I, 2 Act II)
  • SOUTH PACIFIC - Orchestra Package (22 Books/25-31 Players)
    • 1 – Piano Conductor Score
    • 1 – Flute (Doubling Piccolo)
    • 1 – Oboe (Doubling English Horn)
    • 1 – Clarinet I
    • 1 – Clarinet II
    • 1 – Clarinet II
    • 1 – Bassoon
    • 1 – Horn I
    • 1 – Horn II
    • 1 – Trumpet I
    • 1 – Trumpet II
    • 1 – Trumpet III
    • 1 – Trombone I
    • 1 – Trombone II
    • 1 – Tuba
    • 1 – Harp
    • 1 – Percussion
    • 1 – Violin I (Divisi)
    • 1 – Violin II (Divisi)
    • 1 – Viola (Divisi)
    • 1 – Cello (Divisi)
    • 1 – Bass


  • Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pack
    • 10 – Libretto-Vocal Books
  • SOUTH PACIFIC - Full Score (1 Act I, 1 Act II)
    • 1 – Full Score, Act I
    • 1 – Full Score, Act II
  • SOUTH PACIFIC - 1 Synthesizer String Book
    • Transpositions are available on demand, please email [email protected] to request a transposition.


    • South Pacific Flat Bundle
      • 1 – Flat Banners
      • 1 – Flat Facebook
      • 1 – Flat print
      • 1 – Flat Poster
    • South Pacific Layered Bundle
      • 1 – Layered Banners
      • 1 – Layered Poster
      • 1 – Layered Print
      • 1 – Layered Facebook Tabs

    Cast Requirements for South Pacific

    2 Women
    2 Men

    1 Woman
    5 Men
    1 Boy
    1 Girl

    Large singing ensemble consisting of Islanders, Nuns, Officers, Sailors, Marines, and Soldiers

    Ensign Nellie Forbush - a nurse from Arkansas
    Emile De Becque - an expatriate French plantation owner
    Ngana - his daughter
    Jerome - his son
    Henry - his native servant
    Bloody Mary - a Tonkinese trader
    Liat - her daughter
    Bloody Mary's Assistant
    Luther Billis
    Stewpot (Carpenter's Mate Second Class, George Watts)
    Lt. Joseph Cable, United States Marine Corps
    Capt. George Brackett, United States Navy
    Cmdr. William Harbison, United States Navy
    Lt. Buzz Adams
    Yeoman Herbert Quale - sailor
    Radio Operator Bob McCaffrey - sailor
    2 Seabees (originally named Morton Wise and Richard West)
    2 Sailors (originally named Tom O'Brien and James Hayes)
    3 Marines (Originally named Sgt. Kenneth Johnson, Cpl. Hamilton Steeves and Staff Sgt. Thomas Hassinger)
    A Shore Patrolman
    Lead Nurse (originally named Lt. Genevieve Marshall)
    Ensign Dinah Murphy
    Ensign Janet MacGregor
    7 Ensigns (originally named Connie Walewska, Bessie Noonan, Rita Adams, Lisa Minelli, Pamela Whitmore, Sue Yaeger and Cora MacRae)
    Islanders, Nuns, Officers, Sailors, Marines, and Soldiers

    Set Requirements for South Pacific

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

    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

    Materials Notes

    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.
    Trap Set, Timpani, Bells, Marimba, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Oriental Tom-Tom.

    Featured News

    R&H GOES POP! Continues with "Younger Than Springtime" Performed by Derek Klena!
    Broadway star Derek Klena puts a modern twist on the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic song “Younger Than Springtime" from SOUTH PACIFIC for R&H GOES POP! Read More
    The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Presents "R&H Goes Pop!"
    The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization announced today it is presenting a new video series titled “R&H Goes Pop!” on the Rodgers & Hammerstein YouTube channel which can be seen here. Read More
    Enter the 'R&H Fan Sweepstakes' today!
    Impossible things are happening every day and today we are thrilled to announce that we are giving our amazing fans the chance to win two (2) tickets to the R&H production of their choice! Visit to enter the Rodgers & Hammerstein Fan Sweepstakes today! Read More

    Media Rights


    1. The Promotional Video shall be recorded and shown for the sole purposes of advertising your licensed production of the Play. For such a video, R&H allows theatres to film up to 10 minutes of total footage taken at either a performance or rehearsal (i.e.: 10 minutes of scripted moments.)

    2. The Promotional Video may not include more than (i) 1 minute from any song or (ii) 3 minutes, in the aggregate, of footage of copyrighted material from the Play.

    3. The Promotional Video may not include any sponsorship or underwriting without the prior consent of all R&H.

    4. The Promotional Video must be submitted to R&H by sending the source video and video link to [email protected]

    5. The Promotional Video must include the following: "Rights courtesy of Rodgers & Hammerstein,"

    6. Upon approval by R&H of the Promotional Video, you agree not to make any alterations in the approved copyrighted material used therein and you agree to obtain the prior written approval of R&H for any other use of the Promotional Video not specifically granted herein.

    7. Upon termination of the Term, you shall cease to have any rights to use the Promotional Video including, without limitation, in connection with a future production of the Play, and shall immediately remove its content from any and all websites on the Internet.

    8. You may not use a commercially available recording.

    9. Any additional promotional rights must be approved by R&H by contacting[email protected].


    *Promotional video rights can only be granted once a performance license for South Pacific has been secured. Please contact customer service if you have any questions. If you have not yet applied for South Pacific, you can do so here. LOG IN to learn more.


    1. Subject to the information provided in Licensee’s application and payment of the fee as set forth in Paragraph 3 herein, Licensee shall have the right to create a single copy of the Video for internal archival, private viewing purposes at Licensee’s address only and shall not be re-copied, distributed or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed without the prior written approval of R&H. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Video shall not be (i) sold to anyone (ii) telecast by any television station or network, including, without limitation, any local cable station or (iii) distributed, exhibited or otherwise exploited over the Internet or as part of any online auction.

    2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

    ©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved.

    WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine.

    This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

    *You must be and licensed to present South Pacific in order to license Archival rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.


    1. Licensee shall have the right to create the Video and to make up to one hundred (100) copies of the Video for sale at cost to its Members for internal archival, private viewing purpose at Licensee’s address and for private, home-viewing purpose by Members, and shall not be re-copied, distributed or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed without the prior written approval of R&H. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Video shall not be (i) sold to anyone other than the Members (ii) telecast by any television station or network, including, without limitation, any local cable station or (iii) distributed, exhibited or otherwise exploited over the Internet or as part of any online auction.

    2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

    ©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine. This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

    *You must be and licensed to present South Pacific in order to license Distribution rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.
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