Tag Archives: broadway

Juanita Hall – Bali Ha’i

An evening pause: From the 1958 movie of the great Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, South Pacific.

I first saw this movie as a child when I was around five years old. I didn’t understand the story really, and was especially puzzled by some lyrics, especially because my young mind took them very literally. (Just consider “I’m going wash that man right out of my hair!”)

What I do remember was that this song became one of my favorites throughout my early childhood. In hearing it recently again, I was struck by something I clearly remember, from that childhood. The song is about the draw of love and desire, which is what Bali Ha’i partly represents. However, Hammerstein’s lyrics refer to more, to the greater magic hidden in life everywhere, the mystery that lies behind the black, you might say. It is a theme he repeated in many of the songs he wrote for Richard Rodgers..

What struck me now was how I clearly remember, as a child of five, being very aware of this second somewhat sophisticated meaning. At first I was a little surprised that a child of five could comprehend such concepts, but then as Wordsworth wrote,

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
and not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

As a child I knew nothing of the sexual draw of Bali Ha’i, but I understood its mystical nature quite naturally. I have since spent my life trying to hold onto those “clouds of glory,” because they help connect us better to the enigma that is existence.

This version uses Juanita Hall’s own voice, from an earlier recording. For the movie they dubbed her singing because Rodgers no longer thought her aging voice sounded right.

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Reba McEntire -You can’t get a man with a gun

An evening pause: From the Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun. In January 2001, McEntire, a well known country singer, made her Broadway debut in the 2000 revival of the musical that was opened originally with Bernedette Peters in the role. McEntire was an instant sensation, performing the role on Broadway for eighteen months. In many ways this role made her, as it showed she could do far more than sing, and was in fact a very skilled comedic actor.

This clip, shot by an audience member, does a remarkable job of capturing part of one of those performances.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman.

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Rogers and Hammerstein – Oklahoma!

An evening pause: From the 1955 movie, Oklahoma. This Broadway musical is one of the best examples of the fundamental differences between American culture and what preceded it. In the past, all music, drama, fiction, etc, revolved around telling the stories of the powerful, the nobility, the rulers, and the great. In the United States, “of the people, for the people, by the people,” literature, art, drama, and music has focused instead mostly on the lives and concerns of ordinary people. In this musical, for example, the story is about how two ordinary cowpokes decide to give up their roaming ways to settle down and become farmers, all for love. And in doing so, Rogers and Hammerstein end up also telling the story of the American west as it transitioned from the wild west of gold rush boom towns and cattle drive cowboys into a settled society of cities and families.

And the music and choreography is great too!

Hat tip Edward Thelen.

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Candide: Make Our Garden Grow: Bernstein at 70

An evening pause: The finale of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Just before the song begins, Candide says this:

We will not think noble, because we are not noble. We will not live in perfect harmony because there is no such thing in this world, nor should there be. We can only promise to do our best, and to live out our lives. Dear God, that is all we can promise in truth. Marry me, Cunegonde.

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Move on from Sunday in the Park with George

An evening pause: Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin sing “Move On” from Steven Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George.

Stop worrying where you’re going.
Move on.
If you can know where you’re going,
You’ve gone.
Just keep moving on.
I chose and my world was shaken.
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You have to move on.

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