The image here is of New York, out my window on Broadway. I was here for about 4 days, and had never stayed in the middle of everything, on Broadway before. But, then again, it was February, and it was in the middle of a terrible economic recession, so the usually busy New York streets were oddly peaceful, and at times almost empty. It was one of those business trips that was accented by one extraordinary event: finally seeing the revival of one of my favorite musicals, South Pacific.
South Pacific was one of my mother’s favorites also, and it was the first music I ever remember hearing. She had seen it in New York with the original Broadway cast — Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza back in the day. She played many of the songs on the piano, and one of her favorites was Some Enchanted Evening. That romantic story meant something far beyond the story itself, something personal, hopeful, that love could still conquer all. To us, the story seems at times somewhat silly, I mean, what Broadway musical isn’t.. somewhat silly? But it is the music that moves the story line on, and moved me to tears, through the memory my mother’s impassioned singing and piano playing.
What would she have thought of this revival? I wonder if she would have cared that Kelli O’Hara and Paulo Szot were not the living embodiments of her remembered Nellie Forbush and Emile DeBecque? I think she would not have cared at all — the music still soars, the last hand clasp of Nellie and Emile, foretelling that eventually all will be right with the world, would have been enough for her as it was enough for me. Upon leaving Lincoln Center, I wondered when my mother actually did see South Pacific and what kind of world she walked back into? I melded with my mother’s memory that evening, understanding that no matter what year it was,the wind was still brisk and at my back,, the lights were still bright, and hope for more enchanted evenings were still very much alive and kicking.