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.