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Our reviews of The Rodgers And Hammerstein Collection (published January 15th, 2007), South Pacific (Blu-Ray) (published April 13th, 2009), and South Pacific / Gypsy (published May 2nd, 2013) are also available.
Some enchanted evening!
As a collector of Broadway musicals on CD, I've often found that my favorite recordings were these concert presentations. They allow an all-star cast to assemble for a weekend rather than committing to months of running the show. It's surprising to see these events finally making it on to DVD. South Pacific in Concert From Carnegie Hall is a simple, straightforward concert with an all-star cast taking on the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. There's a full orchestra, a handful of costumes, and no set to speak of. It was seen on PBS as a Great Performance, and makes its way to DVD courtesy of Rhino, who gives it a no frills treatment. The actors read the book and sing the songs in front of a full-sized orchestra. The transfer looks dandy, and you can choose a stereo or full surround treatment. There are no extras, but at least you can skip to your favorite song with the selection menu. The most meaty thing to be found is a detailed booklet which gives you insight in to the production which was staged in early June of 2005.
The revelation in South Pacific in Concert From Carnegie Hall is Reba McEntire (Tremors) as Nellie Forbush. Cast as a character from Little Rock, she turns in a twangy yet effective performance that is Broadway quality mixed with Nashville humility. She's got a great voice, and delivers her lines well. After following Reba through decades of country hits, sitcoms, movies, and record breaking concert tours, it's no surprise she finds herself at home on stage. Alec Baldwin (The Shadow) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (One Last Thing) take on the male leads of Luther Billis and Emile, both having had many turns on the stage before their film and television careers. They do quite fine with their respective roles, but you've probably heard better at some point if you're a South Pacific fan. Mitchell has a gorgeous baritone voice, and Baldwin comes off well in the readings of the scenes. The orchestrations are exquisite, and hearing it in full surround is a real treat. The score is so lush you won't mind the sparse visual delivery.
If you're a fan of South Pacific this is a must-see. It's a lively concert version with strong performances to enjoy. I wish there were some extras, but it's nice to simply have this event at your fingertips anytime you want to enjoy "There is Nothin' Like a Dame" headed up by a Baldwin. It's also great to have spunky Reba proclaiming "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of my Hair" instead of "Fancy." It's a classy, well-produced affair that should find its way in to musical loving hearts.
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