Best Musical

South Pacific

Monty Python's Eric Idle set the appreciative tone for the Muny summer. In his surprise appearance at the end of the opening-night performance of Monty Python's Spamalot, Idle (who wrote that exercise in tomfoolery) stood on the Muny stage and, with a sense of amazement in his voice, reported that never before had he seen Spamalot staged outdoors, where indeed most of his show is set. Idle's enthusiasm challenged Munygoers to think anew about the enhancements of the Forest Park locale, which too easily are taken for granted. South Pacific turns out to be another musical that might have been written especially for the Muny. This summer's staging of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, the tenth since 1955, felt younger than spring. Director Rob Ruggiero mounted the show with a freshness that assumed the audience was seeing the show for the first time. And indeed, thanks to the incandescent star turn by Laura Michelle Kelly as Nellie Forbush, we were. Whether Nellie was washing that man right out of her hair or proclaiming her love for a wonderful guy, the alluring Kelly filled the outdoor stage with sheer bliss.

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