Adapted from two short stories by James Michener, South
Pacific chronicles two love affairs. The first involves Lt.
Joe Cable and a young Polynesian girl. The second revolves around
Nellie Forbush, a Navy nurse from Little Rock, and Emile de Becque,
a French planter with whom she falls in love one enchanted evening.
Rodgers and Hammerstein tied the two stories together by having
Cable and de Becque go on a dangerous mission behind Japanese
lines from which only one of them returns.
The original production featured Mary Martin and marked the
Broadway debut of Metropolitan Opera basso Ezio Pinza. It opened
at the Majestic Theatre on April 7, 1949 and ran for 1,925 performances,
making it the second longest running musical of the decade. It
also became only the second musical to be awarded the Pulitzer
Prize for Drama. In 1967, the show was revived at Lincoln Center
with a cast headed by Florence Henderson and Giorgio Tozzi. The
classic 1958 film version featured Mitzi Gaynor and Rosanno Brazzi.