As Joe Cable, the tall and exceedingly dishy Anderson Davis makes a touching transition from cocky newcomer to malaria-addled dreamer. His scenes with the tiny Sumie Maeda, as a Liat who dances her feelings instead of speaking, are quietly heartbreaking. There's no way he's going to marry the native girl, but at least this Joe feels guilty about loving and leaving her. He delivers the anthem summing up Rodgers and Hammerstein's condemnation of racism and intolerance: "You've got to be taught to be afraid/Of people whose eyes are oddly made,/And people whose skin is a different shade/You've got to be carefully taught!"

Sure, the second act's swerve into military maneuvers is too talky after a romance-laden first act that's a bit too long, but South Pacific, thanks to this splendid production, proves that it has more great music, note for note, than any other R&H show. (Go ahead and argue for The Sound of Music, but you'd be wrong.)

As Emile and Nellie, Jason Howard and Carmen Cusack bring tropical heat (and great singing) to the Winspear in South Pacific.
Kim Ritzenthaler
As Emile and Nellie, Jason Howard and Carmen Cusack bring tropical heat (and great singing) to the Winspear in South Pacific.

Details

South Pacific continues at the Winspear Opera House through January 3. Call 214-880-0202.

It also has real people in it. Emile, Nellie, Luther, Joe and the others are simply flawed human beings trying to learn from their mistakes. There they are: thrown together thousands of miles from home on an island in the path of war and under those steaming volcanoes. Why not fall in love right now? Why not sing about it?

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