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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bias, Prejudice, Stereotype and South Pacific

Race, Sex and Colonial Politics: South Pacific the Musical

South Pacific: Paradise Rewritten
By Jim Lovensheimer

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "South Pacific" has remained a mainstay of the American musical theater since it opened in 1949, and its powerful message about racial intolerance continues to resonate with twenty-first century audiences.

Drawing on extensive research in the Rodgers and the Hammerstein papers, including Hammerstein's personal notes on James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, Jim Lovensheimer offers a fascinating reading of "South Pacific" that explores the show's complex messages and demonstrates how the presentation of those messages changed throughout the creative process.

Indeed, the author shows how Rodgers and especially Hammerstein continually refined and softened the theme of racial intolerance until it was more acceptable to mainstream Broadway audiences. Likewise, Lovensheimer describes the treatment of gender and colonialism in the musical, tracing how it both reflected and challenged early Cold War Era American norms. This superb book offers an intriguing portrait of a Broadway masterpiece and the times in which it was written.

South Pacific: Paradise Rewritten offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Rodgers and Hammerstein diluted the radical social and political content of the musical "South Pacific" between its conception and its Broadway opening in order to ensure its commercial success, resulting in a work that remained edifying but that did not offend its audiences.

South Pacific: Paradise Rewritten
By Jim Lovensheimer
Oxford University Press
Hardcover; 288 pages; 30 photographs and 11 music examples

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