VINTAGE PLAYBILL: South Pacific, 1949

By Brynn Cox
07 Apr 2013

On this date 64 years ago, South Pacific opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre.



As the latest effort from songwriting team Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the production was the hotly anticipated follow-up to Broadway hits Oklahoma! and Carousel.

South Pacific premiered April 7, 1949, to critical and popular acclaim. In his New York Times review, Brooks Atkinson called it "a magnificent musical drama...as lively, warm, fresh, and beautiful as we had all hoped that it would be."

In 1950, the production won each of its 10 Tony nominations. South Pacific holds the distinction of being the only musical in Tony Award history to dominate all four acting categories: Mary Martin (as Nellie Forbush), Ezio Pinza (Emile De Becque), Juanita Hall (Bloody Mary) and Myron McCormick (Luther Billis).

The production also received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the second musical to claim the honor. The smash hit went on to play a 1,925-performance run of nearly five years.

Read the original Playbill in the Vault.