Posts tagged ‘Samoan Fales’

March 13, 2015

Post 52 – The Samoan Fales: A Complete Fail if You Pronounce it Wrong*

South Pacific programThe Island Community Player’s production of Little Mary Sunshine had whetted the appetite of the family for musical theatre. Altough one disillusioned 9-year old felt she belonged on the stage instead of in the audience, they were delighted to attend a high school production of a classic musical. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific was so perfect for the island setting that it seemed odd that no one had attempted to perform it before. Although the family owned many Broadway soundtracks and sang them loudly and unbidden, this was one musical they had never heard. The plot was loosely derived from Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, and Jean fervently hoped that the story of the man with the wheelbarrow-sized scrotum had not been included.

From the very first song, the girls were hooked. South Pacific is one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most glorious scores, and the cast was nailing the songs as they plowed through “A Cockeyed Optimist”, “Some Enchanted Evening” and “There is Nothing Like a Dame”. The plot centers on American nurse Nellie Forbush, stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II, who falls in love with a middle-aged French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. The issue of racial prejudice is candidly explored throughout the musical, most controversially in the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”.

However, the controversial interracial aspect was somewhat lost in the translation, as all of the parts were being played by Samoans. The girls turned to each other in bewilderment as the Samoan Nellie sobbed to Samoan Emil DeBeque that she could never marry him because his children were Samoan. But at least the songs were pretty.

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