By Melissa Rose Bernardo
April 22, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times/Redux
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  • TV Show
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In the past 65 years, Broadway has seen its share of Rodgers and Hammerstein: There have been five trips to Oklahoma!, four turns ’round Carousel, four bows before The King and I, and two refrains of both The Sound of Music and Flower Drum Song. Yet South Pacific — which debuted in 1949, won 10 Tonys, and played 1,925 performances — never got a Great White Way revival. (What it did get was a bad rap: Decades of plodding community-theater versions spawned snide sobriquets like South Pathetic, and once Sinatra and Streisand had their way with ”Some Enchanted Evening,” so did fourth-rate cabaret queens everywhere.)

Nearly 60 years later, the stars — plus stylish director Bartlett Sher, Lincoln Center Theater, and a very fine 40-member cast — have aligned for this breathtaking production: As Navy nurse Nellie and French émigré Emile, Kelli O’Hara and Paulo Szot boast a crackling natural chemistry. She’s sunny and lovely, whether in an elegant Atonement-esque green satin gown or a soaking-wet swimsuit with a headful of shampoo; he’s dashing and delivers a thrilling ”This Nearly Was Mine,” the best broken-heart tune in Broadway history. But they’re both eclipsed by the 30-piece orchestra that’s stashed beneath the stage. South Pacific‘s ballad-laden score sounds lush, vibrant, and, as the lyric goes, younger than springtime. (Tickets: 212-239-6200) A

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  • In Season
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