(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-times, 8/15.)
It is all too easy to take Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for granted. Of course many of their Broadway fans have not seen most of their shows performed live, especially backed by a full orchestra. And the very familiarity of their songs can make it easy to forget just how powerfully they address such enduring matters as prejudice, war, politics and romance.
Light Opera Works’ fine revival of “South Pacific” – a late summer treat at Evanston’s Cahn Auditorium – is an instant corrective. It also is a vivid reminder of how this 1949 musical – with its book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan based on James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Tales of the South Pacific” – not only captured the spirit of Americans deployed far from home during World War II, but dealt with the issue of lingering racism in the United States.
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