NT's South Pacific Confirms Opening, 12 DecDate: 7 September 2001
Trevor Nunn's anticipated direction of South Pacific opens at the National Theatre's Olivier on 12 December 2001, following previews from 3 December. Booking opens on 1 October, with cast details to be announced in due course.
The show features music by Richard Rodgers with book and lyrics from Oscar Hammerstein II. The narrative is adapted from short stories by James Michener, and portrays two different love affairs. One involves a Navy lieutenant and a Polynesian girl, the other centres on a nurse and a French planter. The couples are combined when the respective men are sent on a dangerous mission behind Japanese lines.
The original production featured Mary Martin (pictured performing Honey Bun), and opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on 7 April 1949. It ran for nearly 2,000 performances, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and bagged 9 Tony Awards. Its West End debut came in November 1951 when it played at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Songs featured in the production include Happy Talk, Some Enchanted Evening, This Nearly Was Mine and I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair. The National revival will coincide with the centenary of Rodgers’ birth. A major American tour staging of the show also commences in December 2001.
South Pacific's stage success was also repeated at the movie box-office, when an Oscar-winning film version was released in 1958. John Kerr and Mitzi Gaynor were among the stars directed by Joshua Logan, although with the exception of Gaynor the rest were dubbed for their musical parts. A TV remake earlier this year featured Glenn Close, appearing at the National next year in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Harry Connick Jr.
Nunn's production contains musical staging from Matthew Bourne. One of the co-founders of Adventures In Motion Pictures, Bourne's racy interpretations of established classics such as Carmen (The Car Man) has earned him wide acclaim. Nunn recently directed My Fair Lady for the National, now transferred to the West End, and will step down as the venue's director next year.
The set designer is John Napier, original orchestrations are from Robert Russell Bennett, additional orchestrations by William David Brohn and the costume designers are Elise and John Napier.
- by Gareth Thompson