Rodgers and Hammerstein's glorious score for South Pacific
gets a surge of welcome new energy in this 2005 Carnegie Hall concert. Brian Stokes Mitchell (Kiss Me Kate
) is in spectacular voice singing "Some Enchanted Evening" and "This Nearly Was Mine," but the real discovery is country star Reba McEntire as Nellie Forbush. McEntire won raves when she replaced Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun
, but her performance was never recorded and released to the general public. Now we can understand the raves for ourselves, because McEntire is a joy in the role that features such standards as "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "A Wonderful Guy." Those used to Mary Martin (which is nearly everybody) will need to get used to McEntire's scoops and twang, but it's not inappropriate for a character hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Jason Danieley (The Full Monty) and Lillias White are both effective as Lieutenant Cable and Bloody Mary, respectively, and Alec Baldwin doesn't embarrass himself any more than he's supposed to as Billis. Because it's a concert performance, the singers carry books and don't wear costumes other than in "Honey Bun" (so the nurses jog in the surf and wash their hair wearing black gowns). But much of the story is conveyed through dialogue excerpts, so the 113-minute DVD is substantially longer than the 78-minute CD. --David Horiuchi