Plays are amazing — musicals the best, obviously. I prefer seeing them in person to recorded, but sometimes a movie version will capture my attention. Never will a recorded stage play pique my interest.
Except for South Pacific. Specifically, the one recorded live from Carnegie Hall in 2005. It stars Reba McEntire, Alec Baldwin, Brian Stokes Mitchell (Trevor from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!), Broadway actor Jason Danieley, and others.
I happened to catch it on PBS one day and I fell in love quickly. As soon as I had the chance (I didn’t have the Internet at that time) I found the DVD online and ordered it without hesitation.
Why it stood out over other versions of the play, I don’t know. I mean, the stars are even reading the script as they play their parts! (Don’t worry — the actors are so good it doesn’t distract from the play itself at all — except for the one hilarious time that Alec loses his place!) But I adore Reba McEntire as an actress. And she’s so cute with her red hair, southern American accent, and adorable smile!
The story takes place during World War II, and centers on a “hick” US Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, Nellie Forbush (Reba McEntire), and the Frenchman she’s fallen for, Emile de Becque (Brian Stokes Mitchell). Apart from most others’ worries about the war, the two of them are sure that everything will turn out alright (cue song “Cockeyed Optimist”). When Nellie meets Emile’s two children, she discovers that he is the widower of a Polynesian woman. With this new-found knowledge, Nellie is faced with the struggle to decide between love and prejudice.
The secondary love story involves US Marine Lieutenant Joseph Cable (Jason Danieley). (When Bloody Mary meets him, she misunderstands and calls him “Lootellan.”) It’s another choice between love and prejudice when Lt. Cable falls for Bloody Mary’s daughter Liat. I have to let you know (sort-of-a-spoiler) that, despite odds, Liat eventually refuses to marry anyone but Lt. Cable. But can you blame her? Look at the hottie that plays him! ;oP
Don’t worry — the play isn’t all lovey-dovey, tear-jerking fun. There is actually a war plot to the whole thing. In fact, it’s the reason that a Marine enters the story among all the sailors. Even Emile is in the story for more than love.
It’s a wonderful play filled with romance, comedy, and tragedy. Happy endings and sad endings.
There you have it — my usual “cheerleading” review (thanks, Pisces Muse!) of something I geek out about. There may be things wrong with it, but I refuse to try and look for them (or focus on and write about the ones I do know about).
Now, what kind of review would this be if I didn’t include links to help you find the DVD to buy online if you wanted to? Because surely, you will want to buy the best live recorded stage play ever! ;o)
ShopPBS.org (probably where I bought it because I didn’t yet know better than to buy something at full price without shopping around first!)