We have another eight minutes today from the remarkable historic document, when (for inexplicable reasons) the 1952 London Production of South Pacific that starred Mary Martin recreating her legendary Broadway role was filmed. Yesterday, we had the opening 10 minutes of the show, and it included some wonderful songs. This tops that, I think, a sequence that includes two of the most famous numbers from the show, "Some Enchanted Evening" and "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy,"
You'll note again with "Some Enchanted Evening" what I mentioned yesterday. In preparing for the Broadway production, Mary Martin knew that competing with a Metropolitan Opera star like Ezio Pinza was a losing battle, so she had Rodgers and Hammerstein write songs for the couple that weren't traditional duets but rather separate, albeit sounding all of one piece. Singing here with Wilbur Evans, you see that at play here. "Some Enchanted Evening," by all rights, should be a duet. And it seems like it is, if you're not paying attention and knowing what to look for. The song is clearly Emil DeBecque's, but Nellie Forbush has her moments. But notice that the two performers never once sing at the same time. Instead, they have their separate solos.
Terrific as that song is, almost more enjoyable might be watching the pure joy that Mary Martin brings to "I'm a Wonderful Guy." If you're a musical theater fan and you don't start to mist up at the beauty -- and history -- of this, you're not trying.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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