Friday, June 24, 2011

REWIND: Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater Travels to the 'South Pacific' (2008 & 2009)

Above photos from 2008
This is the third post looking back at the 2008 Broadway Revival of 'South Pacific'. During most of the run of 'South Pacific' at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont, the plaza fronting the theatre was under much construction. Finding the theatre entrance was like navigating a maze. Usually I would write about the background of the theatre for which I have just reviewed. Being that I had mainly obscured photos of the Beaumont during the run of 'South Pacific', I'll write more about the venue when I see 'War House' at the same house this summer. I understand construction in this part of Lincoln Center as part of a master revitalization is complete.

Laura Osnes on the Beaumont stage (image: Lincoln Center)
Original 'South Pacific' cast at curtain call as the stage retracts to
reveal the 30-piece orchestra (image: Sarah Krulwich/New York Times)
In the meantime these are shots from 2008 and 2009 when 'South Pacific' was in residency at the Vivian Beaumont. I love the press photo of the cast on the retracted stage that it appears here again with one where actress Laura Osnes (filling in for a pregnant Kelli O'Hara) as Nellie Forbush is in the midst of rehearsal in an empty auditorium. These press photos gives a dramatic view of the only thrust stage on Broadway.

Lower lobby of Beaumont which leads to the underground entrances
and Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

Above photos from 2009

Video Rewind: 2008 Broadway Revival of South Pacific

To accompany the prior post recalling the Lincoln Center 2008 Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'South Pacific' at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre are a couple of videos.

Video using clips of the Broadway cast to promote the 'South Pacific' Tour. (note: although the running time is 14 minutes, the segment is only seven minutes and is repeated)

The company performing selections on the 2008 Tony Awards broadcast:

REWIND: 'South Pacific' Revival at Lincoln Center

Kelli O'Hara (Nellie Forbush) and Paulo Szot (Emile De Becque)
Kelli O'Hara, center, and the members of the company.
Danny Burstein (Luther Billis) and members of the company
(all photos: Joan Marcus & Lincoln Center)
The much heralded Lincoln Center Revival of 'South Pacific' has long since closed after a run of 996 performances (and 37 previews) from March 1, 2008 to August 22, 2010 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in New York City.

As the Lincoln Center production gears up to be revived in London this August at the Barbican Theatre with the original creative and design team intact, I thought this would be an opportunity to look back on a show that I found superlative and was worth while to see more than once.

Based on James Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories "Tales of the South Pacific," the musical focuses on French plantation owner Emile de Becque and his love interest, Nellie Forbush, a naive young nurse from Arkansas. Set against the backdrop of World War II, 'South Pacific' the show includes the classic songs from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and tackles serious themes of racial intolerance and bigotry.

My prior experience with the show has been from the 1958 film adaptation which had the poorly conceived device of using color filters for all the musical numbers; a 2001 television version starring Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr. during a short-lived trend of bringing musical productions to television; and local stage revivals that were always challenged with capturing the tropical locale and melding the music with the dramatic backdrop of World War II. My last experience was viewing a public television broadcast of a 2006 concert staging starring country singer Reba McEntire and Alec Baldwin. Some of these incarnations had a few performances that were either ill cast, performed or, at its worst, sung.

Danny Burstein and Kelli O'Hara
Paulo Szot and Kelli O'Hara
From the moment the overture started, I knew this Broadway revival was a special production unlike any other I have ever seen. As is custom today at many shows the orchestra is hidden from view due to either the theater or scenery limitations. Not this time. A retractable stage reveals the 30-piece orchestra, one of the largest Broadway has ever seen and the reveal is met with awe and applause from the audience. Also most shows augment the orchestra with synthesizers.

The elaborate production design envelopes the stage with great effect to give the sense of an endless beach, wide ocean, distant shores and even a 1940s bomber plane. No expense was spared. Slatted screens transforms the scenery seamlessly into a plantation house and war room.

Matthew Morrison (Lt. Joseph Cable) and Li Jun Li (Liat)

For nearly thirty minutes at the start of act one there are no scene changes and this revival is paced appropriately keeping the audience engaged. Just in these moments classic music numbers come out it: "Some Enchanted Evening," "A Cockeyed Optimist," "Twin Soliloquies" and "Dites-Moi". Seeing it again in 2008 I forgot how many other memorable songs are from the musical: "Younger Than Springtime," "A Wonderful Guy," and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair". For the record, the show also contains one of the longest segments void of any musical numbers in Act II.

Closing the circle of perfection was the 30-member cast lead by Paulo Szot, a star of the opera world, bringing a handsome, virile and unforgettable performance as the plantation owner, Emile DeBeque. His sturdy singing of "Some Enchanted Evening" and "This Nearly Was Mine" stops the show. His take of the role will unlikely be unmatched for a long time to come.

Loretta Ables Sayre (Bloody Mary) and members of the company
Li Jun Li and Loretta Albes Sayre
Kelli O'Hara as Nellie Forbush is wholesome and warm playing the clown as she washes that man out of her hair or singing about her honey bun. She displays a sensitivity as she is romanced by De Becque and in dealing with her dismay of his mixed-race children.

Paulo Szot and Kelli O'Hara
Danny Burstein is swell and fun in the role of Luther Billis bridging the character's scheming for his next money making effort with his affection for Nellie. Hawaiian actress Loretta Ables Sayre is perfectly sassy and cranky as Bloddy Mary. Often a role played for comedy, she becomes a shady figure as she peddles her tropical goods with an underlying purpose of finding a sailor for her daughter Liat (Li Jun Li). "Happy Talk" usually performed for fun takes on a layered meaning in the context of Sayre's rendition and staging. Her highlight is the haunting "Bali Ha'i".

Shortly before hitting television stardom on Fox television's "Glee" Matthew Morrison was a Broadway star originating the role of Link Larkin in 'Hairspray' and receiving a Tony nomination for the musical adaptation of 1960 novella 'The Light in the Piazza' (filmed in 1962). As the doomed Lt. Joseph Cable, Morrison captures a darker portrayal than in previous characterizations. 

Paulo Szot and Matthew Morrison
For a 60-year-old musical, it was like seeing the show for the first time. Lavish and dramatic through and through. It was a production not to be missed. So taken with the production I had to see it again when I returned to NYC in 2009 with the most of the cast intact except for O'Hara who was out on maternity leave. But her replacement Laura Osnes ('Grease') took to the role like a glove. Andrew Samonsky played Lt. Cable whose take on the role if rather severe was an interesting contrast to Morrison.

This revival won praise from critics across the board and won seven Tony Awards in 2008, the most that year, in these musical categories: revival, actor (Paulo Szot), direction (Bartlett Sher), scenic design (Michael Yeargan), costume design (Catherine Zuber), lighting design (Donald Holder) and sound design (Scott Lehrer). Its other nominations included actress (Kelli O'Hara), featured actor (Danny Burstein), featured actress (Loretta Ables Sayre) and choreography (Christopher Gattelli). The show's eleven nominations was also the most that season.

For those unable to make it to New York City, one of the last performances was filmed for broadcast on August 18, 2010, five days before the show's closing. As is usual with television broadcasts of Lincoln Center productions, a DVD will not be available mainly due to contract restrictions prohibiting such a release. The CD recording featuring the 2008 cast is available. The national tour of the show opened in San Francisco in 2009 and continues across America.

Paulo Szot and Kelli O'Hara
The company at curtain call as the stage retracts to reveal the orchestra.
(image: Sara Krulwich/New York Times)


The London production opening later this summer will feature Paulo Szot and Loretta Ables Sayre repeating their roles from New York, both who made their Broadway debuts in 'South Pacific' and now to make their West End debuts. Both will continue in the roles on the UK tour. English actress and singer Samantha Womack plays Nellie Forbush.

The DETAILS (London Production)

  • What: Lincoln Center Theater production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'South Pacific'
  • Where: Barbian Theatre, London
  • Website:
  • Tickets:
  • When: Mon-Sat 7:30pm; Thu & Sat 2:30pm
  • Running Time: 3 hours
  • Ticket Prices: £15-£85
  • Opening: Aug 23, 2011 (previews from Aug 15, 2011)
  • Closing: Oct 1, 2011
  • Cast Recording: The New Broadway Cast Recording (2008)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

STUCK video at DFW Airport: What To Do, What To Do?

Most of us have our share of stories of being stuck at the airport. Some of us even have stories about being stuck at the airport overnight. These guys took the latter a step further and filmed their antics when they were stranded at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport after their flight was cancelled. This is what happens when you leave two West Coast photographers, in this case Joe Ayala and Larry Chen, stuck at a major airport.

Naturally once the video was featured on television news and in the media, the fallout began in today's environment of enhanced airport security.

In a Dallas Observer report, a DFW board member wrote, "Never again" in the comments section. DFW officials are reported to not be terribly concerned about it and issued a statement that, "at no time did the filmmakers' activities present any level of danger or threat to flight safety. And by the way, they also picked up after themselves, including the restroom." (see in the video why)

Click HERE for a report about the making of the video hit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Plane Spotters Paradise at St Maarten, Dutch Antilles

(image credit:
Due to a short runway for arriving aircraft at the airport on the Caribben island of St. Maarten in the Dutch Antilles, the nearby Maho Beach has become a favorite spot for plane spotters and a tourist attraction. Bars and restaurants are reported to even display flight schedules for those wanting to witness the daily arrivals.

The arriving aircrafts upon final approach fly over the beach at a minimal altitude as shown in these photos from various sources. Due to safety and security precautions such close-up view are not common at near airports worldwide. So this makes one of the few locations in the world to view an arriving plane just outside the end of the runway.

Signs clearly post the dangers of being in the area. Government officials have even installed an additional fence around the airports main fence to prevent fanatics from hanging on to the fence to be blasted by the jet flow.

Below is a video of one tourist'ss experience of the arriving jets and the blast of other jets as they take-off.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Waikiki Edition: Facade & Final Notes

Rooms located on the at the corner of Ala Moana Blvd & Hobron. 
Landscaping along Hobron Lane.
There are other facets of The Waikiki Edition that was left unexplored during this staycation. Among them the Crazybox nightclub, Lobby Bar, Spa, Fitness Center and the recreation activities offered by the hotel (not to say I would actually try them out).

It does worth mentioning again that hotels mean different things to everyone. Because of the competitive hospitality industry especially in Waikiki, the Edition is targeting a niche in the luxury hotel market and this reflected in the room rates.

Looking onto the intersection of Hobron and Ala Moana Blvd. The
Waikiki Edition is located at right and self parking structure on
the left where a Red Lobster is located on the ground floor. 
The pedestrian bridge connecting the self-parking (which is NOT
operated by the Waikiki Edition) to the hotel.
Because of this the Edition must compensate for what it lacks. Any guest who complains about these things has evidently not done their research or mislead. The hotel is located on the west end of Waikiki. Therefore the hotel has no beachfront and backs onto a marina. In addition those wishing to invest themselves in the activities along Kalakaua Avenue will find they are a long walk but a short trip via car or taxi to this major shopping thoroughfare running through the center of Waikiki. Another minus is this intersection of Ala Moana Boulevard is a major avenue into and out of Waikiki. The traffic and noise is consistent.

A plus is the hotel is located closer to Ala Moana Shopping Center and Ala Moana Beach park than the majority of hotels in Waikiki. Also at most boutique properties the service tends to be more personal and immediate than at larger hotels but I'm sure there are many who would beg to differ.

The hotel viewed from the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
View from the pedestrian bridge of the marina and Morimoto Waikiki (left)
located on the second level of the hotel. Above Morimoto is one of the hotel's
spaces for special events or parties.
Always the common negative about all Waikiki hotels is the expensive cost for parking and at the Edition the parking is strictly valet at almost thirty dollars daily in addition to tipping.

Like all hotels in Waikiki, the price structure of rooms is based on their location (high floor, low floor, ocean view, city view) and these are considerations when booking.

My experience is it will be worth while to stay at The Waikiki Edition if ever I'm in the mood for future local stays. But my booking will rest largely with finding a good "kamaaina rate" in addition to the hotel still being a Marriott property for which I can earn loyalty points in their rewards program.

To close this series in review of The Waikiki Edition this post includes more exterior shots of the property.

This post is one in a series in review of the Waikiki Edition. Click HERE to view the entire series of posts.

(Above & below) The landscaped walkway along Hobron
leading to the lobby entrance.

(Above & below) More view of the pedestrian bridge crossing over
Hobron Lane.

The lobby entrance to the hotel.
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