Friday, August 20, 2010
South Pacific (Live at Lincoln Center)
The recent TV airing of South Pacific on Live at Lincoln Center was a pretty good telecast of an excellent production of an uneven show with some lovely songs and a dumb book. (In what ways is the book dumb? Nellie's attitude toward Emile changes every five seconds, Nellie can handle that Emile killed a man but not that he slept with a non-white woman, Emile doesn't bother to mention that he has kids, Emile wants to avoid being killed in war because he loves Nellie but doesn't worry about leaving his kid fatherless, Bloody Mary's version of matchmaking looks more like pimping, and so on.) The telecast was only pretty good due to some awkward camera work and some odd decisions, the oddest perhaps being the choice not to show the magical moment when the stage pulls back for the overture, revealing the large orchestra. Another odd choice was to spend so many precious seconds showing the sullen Andrew Samonsky as Lt. Cable when it should have remained glued to the glorious Paulo Szot as Emile DeBecque singing "This Nearly Was Mine" (perfectly!). But forget the complaints--isn't it wonderful that this event occurred? Isn't it fabulous that Live at Lincoln Center exists? Wasn't it a delight to see the play of emotions across Kelli O'Hara's face as Nellie realizes that Emile loves her? And what about Danny Burstein holding onto his dignity talking to Nellie while dressed in dreadful drag as "Honey Bun"? And Loretta Ables Sayer's beautifully sung, magnetic, manipulative, and desperate Happy Talk? And all those musicians! Whatever its faults, this telecast was a gift.