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was the fourth collaboration of the hugely successful team of Richard Rodgers
and Oscar Hammerstein. Josh Logan, who was the director of the original Broadway
production, also collaborated on the book with Hammerstein. It opened on April
9, 1949, four years after the end of World War II. Everyone in the cast, crew,
and audience had been affected some way by this war. It was a celebration of the American
spirit and our victory in the war.
It can be seen as a love story between two very
different couples. One couple is running away from something and finding each
other. The other couple seeks paradise with each other. It is a story of Americans as
strangers in a strange land. Before the war, many Americans had never been
confronted with people with different skin tone, language, customs and beliefs.
The people in this story had to confront basic assumptions they had about life
and other people. Some were
changed forever. Some, like Luther Billis, brought America with them with
entrepreneurship, competition and hustling. It is a story of hope-as some
confront their prejudice and overcome it. There is a sense of longing-for
connection, paradise, home. Bali H’ai calls as a magical place where dreams come
true. The realities of war-loneliness, fear, frustration and death are all
portrayed in this play. Let the journey to “South Pacific” begin.