- A musical with a World War II setting by Rodgers and Hammerstein,first produced on Broadway in 1949 starring Mary Martin and the operaticbass Ezio Pinza. It ran for 1955 performances and won the 1950 TonyAward as Best Musical. The London production, also with Martin, openedin 1951. Revivals include Trevor Nunn's production for the Royal NationalTheatre in 2001 and a much-praised Broadway revival in 2008.
The plot follows a US Navy nurse, Nellie Forbush, who is stationed on a Pacific island during the war and falls in love with a French planter, émile de Becque. A widower with two children, de Becque has fled France after killing a local bully. A subplot concerns US Lieutenant Joseph Cable who becomes the lover of Liat, the daughter of islander Bloody Mary. Both this relationship and that of Nellie with émile are overshadowed by racial prejudice. Cable and de Becque are sent on a dangerous mission in which the lieutenant is killed. The Frenchman survives, however, and returns to Nellie.
The quality of the songs led some critics to label South Pacific as a masterpiece. They include 'Some Enchanted Evening', 'There is Nothing Likea dame', and 'I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outa My Hair' (memorable for being sung by Mary Martin, in both New York and London, while shampooing her hair).