On a South Pacific island during World War II, two half-Polynesian children, Ngana and Jerome, happily sing as they play together (“Dites-Moi”). Ensign Nellie Forbush, a naive U.S. Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas has fallen in love with Emile de Becque, a middle-aged French plantation owner, though she has known him only briefly. Even though everyone else is worried about the outcome of the war, Nellie tells Emile that she is sure everything will turn out all right (“Cockeyed Optimist”). Emile is also in love with Nellie, and each wonders if the other reciprocates his/her feelings (“Twin Soliloquies”). Emile then expresses his feelings for Nellie, recalling how they met at the officers’ club dance and instantly were attracted to each other (“Some Enchanted Evening”). Nellie, promising to think about their relationship, returns to the hospital. Emile calls Ngana and Jerome to him, revealing to the audience that they are his children, unbeknownst to Nellie.
Meanwhile, the restless American sailors, led by the lovable Luther Billis, lament the absence of women to relieve their boredom. Navy nurses are commissioned officers—off-limits to enlisted men. There is one civilian woman on the island, a middle-aged Tonkinese seller of grass skirts, nicknamed “Bloody Mary”, and she and the sailors engage in sarcastic, flirtatious banter, as she tries to sell them her wares (“Bloody Mary”). Billis wants to go to the nearby island of Bali Ha’i (which is off-limits to all but officers), supposedly to witness the Boar’s Tooth Ceremony; the other sailors challenge him saying that his real reason is to see the women there. Billis and the sailors lament the lack of female company (“There is Nothin’ Like a Dame”).
U.S. Marine Lieutenant Joe Cable arrives on the island from Guadacanal. Bloody Mary tries to persuade him to come to “Bali Ha’i”, and she mysteriously says that it is his special island. Billis, seeing an opportunity, also tries to convince Cable to go. Cable meets with his commanding officers, Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison; Cable has been sent to take part in a dangerous spy mission that might help turn the tide of the war against Japan. The officers plan to ask Emile to help with the mission because he used to live on the island where the mission will take place. They ask Nellie to help them find out more about Emile’s background: for example, his politics and why he left France. (They have heard he had killed a man, and one opinion is that this might make him desirable for such a mission.)
After thinking a bit more about Emile and deciding she has become attracted on the basis of little knowledge of him, Nellie tells the other nurses that she intends to spurn him (“I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”). Emile arrives unexpectedly, and invites her to a party where he will introduce her to his friends. Seeing how much he cares about her, she realizes she is still in love with him, and accepts the invitation. Emile again declares his love and asks her to marry him. When she mentions politics, he speaks of universal freedom, and describes leaving France after resisting a newly arrived local bully, and killing him in self-defense. After hearing this, she agrees to marry him. After Emile leaves, she joyously declares her love for him (“I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy”).
Cable’s mission, “Operation Alligator,” is to land on a Japanese-held island and report on Japanese ship movements. The Navy officers ask Emile to be his guide, but Emile refuses because of his hopes for a new life with Nellie. Captain Brackett, the commanding officer, tells Cable to go on leave until the mission can take place. Billis convinces Lt. Cable to take him to Bali Ha’i. There, Billis participates in the native ceremony, while Bloody Mary introduces Cable to her beautiful daughter, Liat, with whom he must communicate in French. Believing that Liat’s only chance at a better life is to marry an American officer, she leaves Liat alone with Cable. The two are instantly attracted to each other and make love (“Younger Than Springtime”). Billis and the rest of the crew are ready to leave the island but must wait for Cable who, unbeknownst to them, is with Liat (“Bali Ha’i” (Reprise)). Bloody Mary proudly tells Billis that Cable is going to be her son-in-law.
Meanwhile, after Emile’s party, Emile and Nellie reflect on how happy they are to be in love (Reprises of “A Wonderful Guy”, “Twin Soliloquies”, “Cockeyed Optimist” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair”). Emile introduces Nellie to Jerome and Ngana. Though she finds the children adorable, she is shocked when Emile reveals that they are his children by a native woman, now dead. Nellie is unable to overcome her deep-seated racial prejudices and tearfully leaves him. After she goes, Emile reflects sadly on what might have been (“Some Enchanted Evening” (reprise).
Meanwhile, after Emile’s party, Emile and Nellie reflect on how happy they are to be in love (Reprises of “A Wonderful Guy”, “Twin Soliloquies”, “Cockeyed Optimist” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair”). Emile introduces Nellie to Jerome and Ngana. Though she finds the children adorable, she is shocked when Emile reveals that they are his children by a native woman, now dead. Nellie is unable to overcome her deep-seated racial prejudices and tearfully leaves him. After she goes, Emile reflects sadly on what might have been (“Some Enchanted Evening” (reprise)).
Meanwhile, Nellie is occupied with planning a Thanksgiving show for the sailors. For the final number, she does a comedy turn dressed as a sailor singing the praises of “his” sweetheart (“Honey Bun”). Billis plays Honey Bun, dressed in a blond wig, grass skirt, and coconut-shell bra. After the show, Emile congratulates Nellie and asks her to reconsider and try to overcome her prejudice. She insists that she cannot feel the same way about him since she knows about the children’s Polynesian mother.
Emile asks Cable why he and Nellie have such prejudices. Cable, filled with self-loathing, replies that “it’s not something you’re born with” and is an ingrained part of their upbringing (“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”). Emile imagines what might have been (“This Nearly Was Mine”). Dejected and feeling that he has nothing to lose, Emile agrees to join Cable on his dangerous mission. The mission begins with plenty of air support. Offstage, Billis stows away on the plane, falls out, and ends up floating in the ocean waiting to be rescued; the massive rescue operation inadvertently becomes a diversion that allows Emile and Cable to land on the other side of the island undetected. (This is actually shown in the 1958 film, but never in the play.) The two send back reports on Japanese ships moving along the “Slot”, and American aircraft intercept and destroy the Japanese ships. Japanese Zeros strafe their position, killing Cable, but Emile narrowly escapes.
Nellie learns of Cable’s death and that Emile is missing. Nellie realizes that she was foolish to reject Emile because of his children’s mother’s race. Bloody Mary and Liat come to Nellie asking where Cable is; Mary explains that Liat refuses to marry anyone but Lieutenant Cable. Nellie comforts Liat. Cable and Emile’s espionage work has made it possible for a major offensive to begin. The previously idle sailors, including Billis, go off to battle.
Nellie spends time with Jerome and Ngana and soon comes to adore them. While the children are teaching her to sing “Dites-Moi”, suddenly, Emile’s voice joins them. Emile has returned to see that Nellie has overcome her prejudices and fallen in love with his children. Emile, Nellie, and his—soon to be their—children rejoice (“Dites-Moi” (reprise)).
South Pacific Cast
Islander: Aguinaldo, Farina
Cpl. Hamilton Steeves, a marine: Banks, Patrick
Ensign Nellie Forbush: Barrera, Andrea
Islander: Batol, CJ
Ensign Dinah Murphy: Cabahug, Princess
Ensign: Cabangcala, Anne
A Shore Patrolman: Canlas, David
Islander: Carpio, Mireya
Nun: Clay, Davina
Morton Wise, a Seabee: Comer, Jacob
a sailor: DeCastro, Khristian Tom O’Brien
Bloody Mary: Dizon, Carissa
Ensign: Dizon, Daphne
Islander: Escusa, Charlyn
Ensign: Fidel, Isabelle
Lt. Joseph Cable, United States Marine Corps: Gatuslao, Luigi
Islander: Gomez, Alexzia
Emile de Becque: Gonzalez, Nikko
Sgt. Kenneth Johnson, a marine: Granados, Michael
Liat, her daughter: Harriman, Robyn
Lead Nurse (named Lt. Genevieve Marshal): Herrera, Arlyn
Yeoman Herbert Quale,a sailor: Hong, Josh
Islander: Humphrey, Kayla
James Hayes, a sailor: Lagunda, Rolando
Staff Sgt. Thomas Hassinger, a marine: Matos, Rodolfo
Nun: Menjivar, Nataly
Radio Operator Bob McCaffrey, a sailor: Milan, Cel
Professor: Montilla, Kyle
Abner, a sailor: Morillo, Alfonso
Ensign Janet MacGregor: Nicosia, Alanah
Ensign: Oliveros, Feli
Ensign: Ortega, Cecilia
Stewpot (Carpenter’s Mate Second Class, George Watts): O’bille, Michael
Capt. George Bracket, United States Navy: Pacolor, Jeff
Nun: Perea, Amy
Islander: Popowich, Natasha
Cmdr. William Harbison, United States Navy: Quille, Conor
Ensign: Quimpo, Kristen
Richard West, a Seabee: Recaza, Leonard
Henry, Emile’s servant: Rios, Nelson
Islander: Rivera, Melanie
Islander: Rocha, Alexa
Islander: Salazar, Valeria
Lt. Buzz Adams: See, Sean
Ensign: Stephen-Lane , Kayley
Luther Billis: Tanalega, Theo
Bloody Mary’s assistant: Tatenco, Veronica
Ensign: Vargas, Natalia
Ensign: Wang, Sunny