Theater Review: Brazilian Opera Singer Paulo Szot Shines in 'South Pacific'

Want to spend an enchanting evening on the Great White Way? Then by all means check out the critically acclaimed revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. The show, which made its Broadway revival debut in March of last year, is an ambitious, dazzling production that features a tour-de-force performance by the towering and dashing Brazilian baritone, Paulo Szot. The Tony-winning actor has a Godly voice that will send chills down your spine and make the hair on your arms stand up.

Szot (who won a Tony for the role in 2008) plays the legendary character Emile de Becque, a cultured, well-read French plantation owner who falls in love (at first sight) with a bubbly U.S Navy nurse from Arkansas named Nellie Forbush (Laura Osnes). It all takes place on a South Pacific island during World War II. In one of the first scenes of the show, Szot performs a captivating solo of the classic, “An Enchanted Evening,” while on a date with Nellie. His phenomenal voice is unmatched. And his performance as Emile, a man raising his two motherless children while pining for the woman he loves, is heartbreaking and sincere.

Even with all of that, Szot doesn't actually have the best performance in the show. That honor goes to the incandescent Laura Osnes, 23, who plays the endearing and immensely likeable Nellie. Osnes—who won the reality TV show Grease: You’re the One that I Want—is a star-in-the-making who looks like Rachel McAdams and can sing with the best of them. With her ability to be adorable, charming and alluring all at once, she’ll make you laugh your head off with her fearless comedic efforts.

The music in South Pacific, (by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein) is likewise magnificent—from Osnes’s sexy, and funny performance of “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair,” to the sweet and romantic "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy." The music and the performances are unforgettable. Meanwhile, Michael Yeargan’s extraordinary scenic design—which is breathtakingly cinematic in scope—will amaze you with its large airplanes and dinosaur-sized palm trees. And best of all, love is truly in the air in South Pacific, which boasts a beautiful and unforgettable romance that will captivate you for years to come.

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