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You’ve Got to be Taught

When “South Pacific” hit the Broadway stage in 1949, it definitely got the theatrical world’s attention! The show won TEN Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. It is still the only musical to win Tony Awards in all four of the acting categories! The musical also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. The show is so beloved that the 2008 revival itself won SEVEN additional Tony Awards!

Fun fact: “South Pacific” was one of the first Broadway shows to sell merchandise. Souvenirs included neckties, scarves, lipstick, music boxes, dolls, even a hairbrush to use after you have washed that man right out of your hair! Lead actress Mary Martin’s hair in the show inspired a nationwide trend of short, easy to maintain hairstyles. The songs of “South Pacific” played on the radio and in the dance halls of the day, and many of them are now considered classics of the American songbook.

One of the reasons the show made such an impact is the theme at the heart of the story. Though it is obviously framed as a love story, “South Pacific” tackles the issue of racism head-on. And in spite of multiple suggestions to soften the story to make it more palatable, Oscar Hammerstein refused. He wanted the show to carry a message: racism does not come naturally to people; it is something that we are taught.

As a product of its time, the musical “South Pacific” comes across as a bit dated today. Numerous productions of the musical have been criticized for the caricatured way indigenous people are portrayed. In addition, a lead character in the story is a plantation owner, and this overt colonialism is included without critique, actually with barely a mention. Furthermore, stereotypical gender roles are featured prominently in the story, presented for comic effect, but seem to the modern audience to be quite misogynistic. 

It is important to name all of that as we make this musical the focal point of the sermon this weekend. The problematic aspects of the show do not mean there is nothing at all we can learn from the story. But we shouldn’t pretend like they aren’t there, either.

So let’s head to the “South Pacific” this weekend, and think about what it means to be Changed for Good by the grace of God. I’ll see y’all in church.




“Confession is just spiritual language for truth-telling” (from the Arthur Riley devo). When we confess, sharing the truth about ourselves with God and with one another, it sets us free. We release those parts of us that are not authentic to who we are so that we are free to

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CONNECTIONS | Health & Recreation

Health & RECREATION Manchester UMC offers a variety of adult Health and Recreation Groups where you can help to enhance your physical health in a fun and supportive environment. Explore these options to find a group that fits your interests and schedule.  Let us know which group(s) you’d like to

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