Monday, March 7, 2011

“South Pacific”

The World Premeire of “South Pacific” was March 7, 1949.

“You’ve got to be taught to hate” is one of the most powerful songs in this anti-racist musical. I can only imagine how audiences might have taken the message so soon after World War II and during the era when racism in the US was still overt and cruel. (The 1949 New York Times review by Brooks Atkinson didn’t actually respond to these themes – just mentioned the picturesque island natives and the song “Some Enchanted Evening.” Oh well.)

Oscar Hammerstein II, the lyricist, had a Jewish grandfather; Richard Rodgers, the composer was Jewish; whatever their religion, I think the theme of this musical resonates with both Jews and non-Jews.

For more see this review.

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