To have seen the original 1949 Broadway production of James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize winning “South Pacific,” you’d be a septuagenarian now, and you’re in your 60s if you saw the movie in a theater. The show is considered one of the greatest ever. It was nominated for ten Tony awards and won all of them, and it remains the only show to land all four acting awards. Set during World War II, the story still holds up and you won’t be disappointed if you rent the video.
The March 2008 revival of the show, still a hot ticket on Broadway, was nominated for 11 Tonys and won seven. (The part of Bloody Mary is performed by Hawaii entertainer Loretta Ables Sayre, who earned one of the nominations.)
Director Josh Logan chose Kauai as the principal location for the 1958 film version. The publicity for its release provided a huge boost for Hawaii tourism, and put Kauai on the map as a major film location for Hollywood productions.
The movie starred Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi, a prominent Italian actor who appeared in some U.S.-produced films (Interlude, The Barefoot Contessa, Three Coins in the Fountain).
Now there’s a local revival of the Broadway production at the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort, a well-produced dinner show in the resort’s main ballroom with local talent. The show begins at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday evenings and is followed by a cocktail and buffet dinner. The performance allows you to re-experience the classic score — “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Hai,” “Happy Talk,” “I’m in Love with A Wonderful Guy,” and it’s enjoying good reviews.
If your vacation plans include Kauai, you might consider taking the show in. Book well ahead. Hawaii-Aloha.com can help you with that. Pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8771.
Back in 1982, I produced a mini movie for a local developer to promote his high-end residences that were to be built on the promontory above where the Hanalei River’s mouth meets Hanalei Bay. Since the homes were to be exorbitantly priced, the marketing strategy was to produce a film that would highlight the beauty of the Hanalei area and relate it to the South Pacific movie. In lieu of advertising and brochures, the plan was to identify the few people in the world who could qualify for the purchase and deliver a copy of our film to every one of them.
We brought Rossano Brazzi to Hanalei from Italy. His beloved wife Lydia had died just the year before, and he was more than willing to return and rekindle the memories he and Lydia had shared while Rossano was shooting the South Pacific picture. We hired Michael Gleason, who had created the “Remington Steele” TV series but was unable to work in Hollywood because of a writer’s strike, to write our script. Rossano was accompanied by his brother Oscar Brazzi, a famous Italian director and producer, to provide creative input. Oscar spoke no English whatsoever, but he and I discovered we could communicate by sketching little storyboards that expressed our thoughts and ideas. It allowed us to amuse ourselves and feel important, but Michael Gleason closeted himself in his hotel room for two weeks and generated the entire script without any help from Oscar or me.
Michael had brought along his beautiful young wife (He has since remarried), who was left on her own while he worked. An aspiring actress and full of ambition and moxie, she spent her time attempting to get close to anyone who might help her career along. She realized early on that I was a mere local advertising guy and not of much use, and our director, Mique Quenzer, had made it clear from the outset that he wanted nothing to do with her. She turned her attention to Rossano and followed him everywhere. Rossano was a gentleman and tolerant, but he said to me every day when he got me alone, “That woman! She-sa driving me crazy!”
Our film – Rossano providing a tour of the area and recalling all the things he loved about making the movie and Hanalei – did its job to everyone’s satisfaction.
Unfortunately, the homes were indeed overpriced and the entire development was scrapped before ground was broken, before copies of our film were delivered to prospects, and before any homes were pre-sold. The master copy of the film is in storage somewhere, I suppose, and I don’t know of anyone who has a copy. Too bad. It was pretty good.