Some Enchanted Evening

By staff July 11, 2008


The Broadway revival of South Pacific lives up to its rave reviews.


By Charlie Huisking


For the price of my ticket to Broadway's sumptuous new production of South Pacific, I could have flown to the REAL South Pacific.


A slight exaggeration, but I had to pay a broker nearly three times the ticket's $125 face value in order to get a seat for the show, which just won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Staged in Lincoln Center's cozy, 1,000-seat Vivan Beaumont Theater, the production is sold out until November. I had hoped my friend Jay Handelman, the Herald-Tribune's theater critic, might be able to snag me a seat through his press contacts with the show, but even he had no luck.


So was it worth the money? I stopped thinking about how much I'd shelled out as soon as the orchestra started playing that lush Rodgers & Hammerstein score. Soon, my feet were tapping along to "Bloody Mary" and "There is Nothin' Like a Dame."


This is the first Broadway production of South Pacific since its initial run in 1949. It was viewed by many as too dated to warrant a revival. But with its backdrop of war and its theme of racial prejudice, it has never seemed more relevant. Kelli O'Hara is outstanding as the "cock-eyed optimist" nurse Nellie Forbush, and Brazilian opera singer Paulo Szot smolders as French planter Emile de Becque.


Far from a museum piece, the show had a vitality that had you on the edge of your seat. Some enchanted evening, indeed.


Thankfully, I didn't have to pay a scalper for the other shows I saw on Broadway. I loved August: Osage County, Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning drama about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family. It's three-and-a-half hours long, but you'd never know it. It's painful, ferocious, but also very funny, and impeccably acted by an impressive ensemble headed by Estelle Parsons as the pill-popping matriarch.


Not only that, this may be the only Pulitzer Prize-winning play that mentions Sarasota. In one scene, a daughter has returned home after a family crisis. She tells her sister she hopes to see her at her wedding.


"You're in Sarasota, right," her sister asks. "No, I told you we moved to Miami," she answers.


When I wasn't in theaters, I was having dinner with actors.


Specifically, with Juan Javier Cardenas, the FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate whom my mother had sponsored in the Sarasota graduate-acting program. Juan has been in New York only a few weeks, but he's already landed a big role at an audition. He has been cast in Boleros for the Disenchanted, a new play by Jose Rivera that will open in September at Boston's Huntington Theater Company.



Me and Conservatory grad Juan Cardenas in NYC.


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