1949 Original Broadway Production
Premiering on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on April 7, 1949, South Pacific was an instant hit with critics and audiences alike. Starring Mary Martin as Ensign Nellie Forbush and opera star Ezio Pinza as Emile De Becque, South Pacific would run 1,925 performances on Broadway, taking its final bow on January 16, 1954. At the Tony Awards, the production won all ten awards for which it was nominated, including Best Musical, Best Libretto, Best Musical Score, Best Director and, in a historic accomplishment, all four musical performance awards; Mary Martin, Ezio Pinza, Myron McCormick and Juanita Hall all won. That has never happened since. The ultimate honor, however, came on May 1, 1950, when the Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to South Pacific, only the second musical to earn the distinction.
The original Broadway cast of South Pacific gathered in Columbia Record’s famous 30th Street Studio to record the original cast album on April 18 and 19, 1949. With orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett, the recording was conducted by Salvatore Dell’Isola and produced by Goddard Lieberson. Introducing such classics as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Younger Than Springtime” and “Bali Ha’i” to the American public for the first time, this original cast album spent 69 weeks at number one on the popular albums chart. In over 70 years, no other cast album has broken such a record. It would remain on the chart until 1953 and make its return in 1957 upon the film’s release, where it would stay until 1959.