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Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific at Sydney Opera House

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by Jenny Wong (subscribe)
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I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific…

Upon entering the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House, the audience immediately sees the illumination of these opening words of James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize winning 1947 book, Tales of the South Pacific.

If you enjoy Broadway and West End musicals and Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, you will step out of the Opera House smiling and feeling good after watching South Pacific. I've always thought a benchmark for a good musical theatre is when a performance draws the audience in to the point where you forget you are watching a musical. South Pacific did just that, despite its three hour duration and the absence of the smell of the ocean and coconut oil.

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South Pacific illustrates a parallel of captivating love stories of men and women during times at war, conjuring themes of racial tensions, tied together with enchanting numbers such as 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair' and 'There is Nothin Like a Dame', which will have you humming well after the show.

The story, set in World War II, is centred around an American nurse, Nellie Forbush (played by Lisa McCune) stationed on a South Pacific Island who falls in love with a middle aged French plantation owner, Emile de Becque (played by Teddy Tahu Rhodes). Whilst Nellie appears to accept Emile's past of having fled his home country after killing a man, Nellie struggles to accept Emile's mixed race children.

Meanwhile, we are drawn to another story of romance between a US Marine, Lieutenant Cable and Liat, a young Tonkinese woman (Tonkinese people were from an old Asian-French colony called 'Tonkin', which is now known as Vietnam). Lieutenant Cable also wrestles with the social consequences of a mixed race marriage with Liat, which is frankly portrayed in Cable's song, 'You've Got to be Carefully Taught'.

South Pacific is now showing at the Sydney Opera House until 2 November 2013 and tickets can be purchased from Opera Australia or Ticketmaster. South Pacific is showing in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, which is well elevated to ensure good viewing wherever your seats are (my mother and I had Row V seats). The theatre is close to Opera Kitchen which is a good place to have quick dinner just before the show, ensuring you won't be late as it starts pretty sharp on 7.30pm for the evening sessions.
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When: Tuesday - 1pm; Wednesday - 1pm & 7.30pm; Thursday - 7.30pm; Friday - 7.30pm; Saturday - 1pm & 7.30pm; Sunday - 3pm
Phone: Opera Australia (02) 9318 8200
Where: Sydney Opera House
Cost: From $44
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