South Pacific

The production of South Pacific I saw was at the American University Experimental Theatre, directed by Elizabeth Vrenios. South Pacific is generally considered to be a play about three topics: (i) frustrations of soldiers as they waited to enter World War II against Japan, (ii) the love story between its two main charactiers Emille de Becque (David Solomon) and Nellie Forubush (Veronique Thomaes), and (iii) the issue of xenophobia, and the societal conditioning that leads to fearing people that are superficially different from you.

South Pacific is a musical and as such it is generally upbeat and happy. But yet the theme of conformity rings strong in the song You've Got to be Taught (lyrics attached at the end since I think it's so profound). It was when I heard Lt. Joseph Cable (Alex Albrecht) singing this song that I felt the musical really had some power to it.

The acting was pretty good. The performances by Albrecht and Ian Grossman as Seaman Luther Billis were great. However, Amy Epstein stole the show as Bloody Mary. The set was simple, but the lighting and the slides really added to the quality of the show and surpassed many professional shows I've seen in the past.

This is a musical worth renting on TV or watching, as the songwriting by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein is excellent. The philosophical lessons learned from it are icing on the cake.

"You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
 you've got to be taught from year to year,
 it's got to be drummed in your dear little ear---
 you've got to be carefully taught!

 You've got to be taught to be afraid
 of people whose eyes are oddly made,
 and people whose skin is a different shade---
 you've got to be carefully taught.

 You've got to be taught before it's too late,
 before you are six or seven or eight,
 to hate all the people you relatives hate---
 you've got be carefully taught!"
   ---You've Got to be Taught, from South Pacific

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