Pacific 1860 is a musical written by Noël Coward. The story is set in a fictional Pacific British Colony during the reign of Queen Victoria. It involves a visiting Prima Donna and her conflict between love and career. There is also the problem of snobbishness from the island's establishment.
The original London production opened in 1946, starring Mary Martin, and played for four months.
The musical premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London on 19 December 1946 and was the first post-war production by Coward. The show was not a success and ran for only four months, closing on 12 April 1947 The lead was taken by Mary Martin, and the other principal actors included Graham Payn, Maidie Andrews, Sylvia Cecil and Winifred Ingram. Sets and costumes were designed by Coward's friend and regular designer, Gladys Calthrop.
The Times said of the piece that the island on which it was set was equable in temperature, adding "This mild romance with its abundance of easy theatrical sentiment so gracefully expressed has precisely the same climate, and there are moments, as one pretty song succeeds another, when we rather hanker after a tropical storm." Of the cast, the paper said, "Miss Mary Martin sings the heroine with much assurance and charm, and Mr Graham Payn is fully equal to the demands made on her 'opposite number'." The Manchester Guardian thought the first act fell "entirely flat" and judged the whole show old-fashioned, but praised the cast and the production. The Observer was still less favourable: "This operetta is an orgy of good taste, and people who are nervous of that quality may be comforted by knowing that there is plenty of honest dullness in the very conventional plot."
(In the order listed in The Lyrics of Noël Coward, pp. 232-63):
- Lesley, pp. 248 and 289
- The Times 9 April 1947, p. 6
- Pacific 1860. NoëlCowardMusic.com, accessed 26 May 2011
- "Theatre Royal, Drury Lane", The Times, 20 December 1946, p. 6
- Hope-Wallace, Philip, "Pacific 18602, The Manchester Guardian, 20 December 1946, p. 3
- Brown, Ivor, "At the Theatre", The Observer, 22 December 1946, p. 2
- Coward, Noël. The Lyrics of Noël Coward, Heinemann, London, 1965.
- Lesley, Cole. The Life of Noël Coward. Cape 1976. ISBN 0-224-01288-6.
- Tanvitch, Robert. The London Stage in the 20th Century Haus Publishing Ltd ISBN 978-1-904950-74-5
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