2017 SOUTH PACIFIC
SOUTH PACIFIC has closed. Enjoy the photos and video here, and thank you for the record breaking season!
Rodgers & Hammerstein's
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel
Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
Directed by Joel Schlader
Music Direction by Daniel Thomas
Choregraphed by Jane Mason
Presented by arrangement with R&H Theatricals.
Woodminster’s 51st season continues in August 2017 with South Pacific, the grand 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptation of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, already hugely successful with Carousel and Oklahoma, set out to write a popular musical that would also send a strong progressive message about racism. They succeeded so well that this vastly entertaining show still has an important and relevant message more than 60 years later.
South Pacific has a compelling plot, likable characters, and most of all, some of the most glorious songs in musical theater history, including “Bali Ha’i,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” and many more.
This is a show that appeals to all ages. Younger children will enjoy the lively musical numbers, and older children and teens will appreciate the thoughtful treatment of issues like racism and the costs of war. Everyone will enjoy the humor, romance, and melodies that have made this show such a classic.
Join us in August for this beautiful love story with a still-timely message.
SOUTH PACIFIC on R&H Musicals - (plot synopsis, cast, music, etc.)
SOUTH PACIFIC on Wikipedia - (background and history of the musical)
Tickets Available Now! For quick online purchase, click on any date in the calendar. For full ticket information and options, visit our ticket information page.
South Pacific PRESS RELEASE
South Pacific is one of the most famous and popular musicals of all time, but it opened on Broadway almost 70 years ago, and it deals with events that happened several years before that, during World War II. Since most of our 2017 audience members don't remember these times, we thought a little historical context was in order. Thank you, Barbara Robben, for your generous donation that makes the larger paper program possible so we have more room for these notes.
World War II
South Pacific Area
Women At Home
World War II (1939-1945)
What Was That About? A Reminder.
The youngest American veterans of World War II are 90 this year. Even people who remember the war from their childhoods are in their 70s and 80s today. It’s hard for most of us to understand the notion of a “total war,” where just about everyone in the country is part of the war effort, and everyone believes the war can be won, and must be won, and that somehow the end to this current war might be the end of all wars. Perhaps a story like South Pacific is a good way to remember what the Second World War was fought for, and the heroism of the ordinary people involved, and the human costs of any violent conflict.
World War II, the deadliest and most widespread conflict in human history, involved more than 30 countries and resulted in an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities. Battlegrounds spanned the world, and all the world’s most powerful countries were involved. In time, combatants organized themselves into two opposing forces, the Allies and the Axis. The countries that were the major powers put their entire economies and industrial/scientific abilities into the war effort.
More civilians died in this war than military. An estimated 11 to 17 million people died as a result of Nazi ideological policies, including the systematic genocide of 6 million Jews and several other specific groups. At least a million civilians were killed in strategic bombings of population centers, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japanese occupation forces killed between 3 and 10 million civilians in Asia and the Pacific. A quarter of the people living in the Soviet Union were either killed or wounded, including over 6 million civilians who died of starvation and disease as a result of the war. The list of horrors goes on and on, and all participants were aggressors as well as victims.
Though Japan was already at war with China by 1937, the World War is considered to have started in 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. Over the next two years, the Axis alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan were successful in invading and controlling territories in Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. In 1941, the European Axis countries invaded the Soviet Union, and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into the conflict. By 1942, the advantage had begun to turn to the Allies, when Germany was defeated in North Africa and Japan at the Battle of Midway. But it took three more years for the war to end with the surrender of Germany in May 1945 and Japan in August.
In the aftermath of the war, the political alignment and social structure of the world changed dramatically. Because of the horrors of WWII, and with the hope that such a war would never have to be fought again, the United Nations was established. The victorious “great powers” of the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, and France were granted permanent seats on the UN Security Council and enhanced power. Decolonization of Asia and Africa began. The Empire of Japan was dissolved and the Emperor lost all real power as the country became the democracy of Japan and was occupied by Allied forces for several years. Israel became an independent country, and the Arab-Israeli conflict heated up. Germany, and indeed, all of Europe, was divided in two as the Western world settled into two international military alliances, the United States-led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, and the Cold War and arms race ensued.
The South West Pacific in World War II
There were three main “theatres” in World War II: The European Theatre; the Mediterranean, African, and Middle East Theatre, and the Pacific Asia Theatre. The latter was itself divided into the Pacific Ocean Areas (North, Central, and South) commanded by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and the South West Pacific Area commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. And it’s MacArthur’s area of the war, the South West Pacific, where the musical South Pacific is set.
Our story takes place on an island in the South Pacific where American Navy troops are stationed, and another island nearby, occupied by native people. These islands are fictional, but the Michener stories that inspired this musical take place on islands in the Coral Sea near Australia. The plot of South Pacific centers on Navy officers and enlisted men stationed on just such an island, a French planter who has lived there for many years, a young Marine officer who has been sent there on a dangerous mission, and a Tonkin woman and her daughter, also far from home.
The South West Pacific Theatre, stretching from the Philippines to Australia and Borneo to the Solomon Islands, became an important focus for troop deployment after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Allies including the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Netherlands, and the U.K. fought Japan in many famous battles in this part of the Pacific, and also spent a lot of time camped on beaches waiting to attack or be attacked, or (as in the case of our characters) waiting to support the war effort in ways other than
Above left is a vintage WWII photo of Jean Phillips, who was a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) stationed very close to where our musical takes place. Jean is wearing a bathing suit she made herself from an old parachute. We find this appropriate because Jean’s daughter, Alison Barnwell Morris, is the costumer for our production of South Pacific. Look closely at Nellie’s bathing suit in the photo above right. Yes, Alison made it from an old parachute!
Women & WWII: On the Home Front
by Karen Fong
Board member Producers Associates
Works at Rosie the Riveter Museum
World War II proved an important time for American women. “Rosie the Riveter” was a term coined to help recruit female civilian workers and came to symbolize a workforce that was mobilized to meet the nation’s wartime needs. Prior to the war, 25% of the women worked in traditional jobs categorized as “women’s work” which included jobs such as teaching, domestic service, clerical work, nursing, and library science. As men enlisted or were drafted into the military, skilled jobs, previously unavailable to women, began opening up. Many women who chose war work found independence and freedom in it. The pay was more than they had ever made before although not equal to men working the same job.
However, when the war ended in 1945, women’s newfound economic security suddenly was in jeopardy. As men returned home, they also returned to the jobs they had left behind. It became clear that women were expected to resume their traditional roles as wives and mothers and “women’s work” held prior to the war.
Interested in learning more about the WWII home front? Plan a visit to Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. The Visitor Education Center provides educational and interactive exhibits. People of all ages can learn about the important time and place in history and how it impacted our daily lives. The Visitor Education Center is located at 1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 3000 in Richmond.
Visit their website at: https://www.nps.gov/rori/index.htm
Navy Nurses: Heroes in Skirts
(Though they mostly wore pants)
Nellie Forbush is a Navy nurse. The United States Navy Nurse Corps was already venerable by WWII, having been officially established in 1908. During the war, and in fact until 1965, all Navy Nurses were female. The Corps went from about 800 members on active duty in 1941 to perhaps 10,000 by the end of the war, many of them reserves on active duty. These women were tough enough to be the first American women to be sent to many dangerous places, bringing healing as well as elements of order and civilization with them.
The WWII Navy Nurse Corps members were highly qualified, trained in surgery, orthopedics, anesthesia, contagion, dietetics, and physiotherapy. They were trained in psychiatry, so they could help soldiers understand and manage Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (then known as shell-shock) and battlefield fatigue. In addition to taking care of patients themselves, they also trained the Hospital Corpsmen, troops assigned to work on invasion beaches and hospital ships, who often arrived completely untrained in medical procedure. In the southern Pacific, the Navy nurses performed these crushing duties in tropical heat and humidity, in continual danger, making sure wounded soldiers were stabilized before they were sent to the hospital at Pearl Harbor. Some were captured and continued to work as nurses in Japanese prisoner of war camps. These smart and strong and courageous young women helped make Allied victory possible.
(We build. We fight.)
Luther Bills is a Seabee, a member of the United States Naval Construction Battalions. In spite of their logo, the word Seabee has nothing to do with sea or bee, but instead is an acronym for Construction Battalion. Before World War II, the U.S. used civilian contractors to build what they needed, but with war, things got more complicated and dangerous. Civilians who resisted enemy attack could be executed, so the Seabees was conceived as a group of skilled construction workers who could be trained to drop their tools and pick up weapons at a moment’s notice as members of the military.
The Seabees have been called “a phenomenon of World War II,” but at 75 years old, the Seabees are still an integral part of Navy operations today. The first men in the Seabees were recruited for their experience and skills, given advanced rank, and as a group they were the highest paid in U.S. uniform in WWII. They were older than most soldiers, average age 37, and already had experience building things like the national highway system, Hoover Dam, and New York skyscrapers and subways. In the Pacific, they built hundreds of advance bases, over a hundred airstrips, and hundreds of piers, bridges, roads, storage tanks, hospitals, and housing for 1.5 million people.
More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and hundreds of islands. In the Pacific, they built 111 major airstrips, 441 piers, bridges, roads, tanks for the storage of 100,000,000 gallons of fuel, hospitals for 700,000 patients, and housing for 1.5 million men. One of their mottos is, “The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer.”