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“South Pacific” musical to brighten Hale Center Theater Orem stage

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OREM — A classic drama written in 1947, two years after the end of World War II, the "South Pacific" musical has more than catchy tunes and love stories. The show is coming to the Hale Center Theater Orem stage Oct. 4.

It's a show that addresses racial prejudice, love, and the casualties of war as a spunky nurse from Arkansas has to decide if she can love the mixed-race children of her French fiance. An Army officer who falls in love with an Asian woman has to do the same.

"South Pacific" began as a short-story collection written by then unknown author James A. Michener. It sold about 25,000 copies, but won a Pulitzer Prize.

The musical premiered in March 1949 in the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Conn., and became an instant audience favorite. It opened on Broadway in April that same year and ultimately claimed Tony Awards for best musical, best score, best libretto, best director and best acting in all four acting categories.

The 2008 revival show has also won a number of Tony Awards.

Set in an island paradise, "South Pacific" can appear to be a light-hearted Rodgers and Hammerstein musical designed to simply entertain.

Called by some the greatest musical ever written, the show was criticized early on for its mixed race relationships and particularly for the song "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught."

Critics called the song indecent and pro-communist. Some said it justifies interracial marriage and undermined the American way of life.

Michener defended the story and Rodgers and Hammerstein insisted the song stay in as the key to the musical's message.

Several songs from the show have become popular standards including, "Bali Ha'i," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Happy Talk," "Younger than Springtime," and "I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy."

Marcie Jacobsen is both the director and music director.

The musical stars Brittany Worley and Kelly Hennessey as Ensign Forbush and Equity actor Dallyn Vail Bayles and Rex Kocherhans as Emile de Becque. The cast also includes Equity actor Blake Barlow, double cast as Luther Billis with Ben Henderson.

If you go:

What: "South Pacific"

Where: Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem

When: Oct. 4-Nov. 24, Mon. - Sat., 7:30 p.m., with 3 p.m. Saturday matinees, no show Oct. 6

Cost: $16-$20 for adults, tickets available online at www.haletheater.org or by phone 801-226-8600