By Wayne Harada
Let’s cut to the chase:
“South Pacific,” the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, apparently is heading for a remake on the big screen, according to Playbill.com.
Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, of “American Idiot” and “Spring Awakening” success on Broadway, hopes to tap Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams as Nellie Forbush, according to the Daily Mail. Williams was nominated for “My Week With Marilyn” and became a mainstream entity with “Brokeback Mountain.”
Apparently, more box office hotties are under consideration for other leads: Hugh Jackman, a Tony-winning Broadway star for “Boy from Oz” and an Oscar nominee for “Les Miserables,” is being wooed to portray Emile de Becque, with singer-actor Justin Timberlake, the prevailing artist of coolness thanks to his “Suit and Ties” hit, under consideration for Lieutenant Cable.
There’s no mention of who might play Bloody Mary, which requires a specific kind of actress, who can sing “Bali Ha’i” and “Happy Talk” in a particular style, and portray the comedic eccentricities of the character. So let’s hear a shout-out for our homegrown Tony nominee, Ables Sayre, who performed the Tonkinese character in the recent Lincoln Center revival of the classic play, directed by Bartlett Sher. Not only on Broadway, which led to a Tony nomination, but in London.
She’d bring N.Y. creds to the cast — along with a touch of Hawaii’s aloha. And you know how wildly we support our own in the arts. Think Bette Midler. Bruno Mars. Jake Shimabukuro.
The source of the musical is “Tales of the South Pacific,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by onetime resident James Michener. Another local link.
If the producers can align all the stars for this movie, the constellation would put “South Pacific” in the league of the Oscar-calibre “Les Miserables” hit that helped Anne Hathaway earn a Best Actress Academy Award. "South Pacific" could be such a filmic contender, too.
The star-studded cast certainly will appeal to the movie-going crowd; and since the story is set in the Pacific, part of the filming logically could be done in Hawaii. Just a thought, for now; Kauai was the backdrop for the first film of this musical.
The original Broadway production in 1949 starred Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin, and scored nine Tony Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize.
The last Broadway mounting of musical, marking the 50th anniversary of the show, earned the 2008 Tony Award for Best Revival of Musical, so it has beaucoup creds.
The show has twice been adapted for the screen; a 1958 film starred Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor; a 2001 TV version starred Rade Serbedzija, Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr.
In Australia, a 2012 mounting was filmed for future DVD release. An earlier Carnegie Hall concert version, with Reba McIntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell, has been released on DVD. The Lincoln Center taping has been shown on PBS, but has not been released on DVD.
Against a wartime story line laced with issues on racisim, the joyous Rodgers & Hammerstein score features some of the most memorable tunes: “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” and “Wonderful Guy.”
Hope the producers seriously consider and then tap Ables Sayre for Bloody Mary. Would be a bloody crime if she is bypassed.