Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

South Pacific

Music by Richard Rodgerssouthpacifictour09

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan

Directed by Bartlett Sher

Music Direction by Ted Sperling

Musical Staging by Christopher Gattelli

Produced by NETworks Presentations, LLC

At the Rosemont Theatre

The beloved classic South Pacific sails triumphantly to Rosemont Theatre

It is rare that a national tour of a 60 year old show creates such a buzz as The Lincoln Center’s wonderful remount of the 1949 10 Tony winner, South Pacific does. Rarer still will you find a touring show with a 26 member orchestra expertly playing all of the original orchestrations and reprises of Richard Rodgers gorgeous score deftly orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett.


Some have called this 2008 production  of South Pacific, itself the winner of 7 Tony’s including Best Revival and Best Director for Bartlett Sher, “the best  revival ever.”  It is hard to argue against that statement.  I must state that South Pacific is # 8 on my list of musicals ( ).


Featuring Rodgers’ most elaborate and lush score that produced such songs as “A Cockeyed Optimist,” “Some Enchanted Evening, ” “There is Nothin’ Like A Dame,” “A Wonderful Guy,” ‘Bali Ha’I,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “This Nearly Was Mine” and the, at the time, controversial “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” South Pacific helped knock down racial barriers and prejudice in a time when such thoughts were hardly ever spoken. This romantic Broadway musical is both moving and sentimental as it depicts the foibles of men at war.


The cast featured the fabulous bass-baritone, opera star, David Pittsinger as the French plantation owner Emile de Becque, Carnen Cusack as Ensign Nellie Forbush with excellent help from Keala Settle as Blood Mary and Matthew Saldivar as Luther Bills. The cast of 34 nimbly performed the Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes. The large (for a tour) orchestra played with gusto the complete  Bennett orchestrations  giving the show a lavish, romantic and hauntingly moving tone.


It is important that classics like South Pacific be presented in their entirety with all the songs, all the underscoring and all reprises so as to let the next generation experience all the splendor of the original production. This show sure does that effectively. Granted contemporary theatre aficionados may question many of the story elements and persona of key characters but they will have no quibble with Rodgers and Hammerstein marvelous  songs.

This is a tour that begs to return since it is only at the Rosemont Theatre until Sunday, November 29. Forget shopping on Black Friday–there are 2 performances of this fabulous remount.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL, call 800-745-3000, tickets $39.50 – $79.50, Wednesday Nov 25 at 7:30 pm, Friday, Nov 27 at 2 & 8 pm, Sat. Nov 28 at 2 & 8 pm, Sunday, Nov 29 at 22 pm, running time is 3 hours, 5 minutes with intermission, through November 29, 2009. For more info on the national tour dates

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