"ONE OF GREATEST MUSICAL PLAYS IN THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATRE": THE COMPLETE PIANO-VOCAL SCORE FOR SOUTH PACIFIC, SIGNED BY RICHARD RODGERS AND WARMLY INSCRIBED IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION BY OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN TO ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST MEMBER DICKINSON EASTHAM, THE FIRST ACTOR TO PLAY SEABEE RICHARD WEST
RODGERS, Richard and HAMMERSTEIN, Oscar. South Pacific. A Musical Play. (New York: Williamson Music, 1949). Octavo, original printed blue-green paper wrappers. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box. $4800.
First edition of the complete piano-vocal score for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical, an exceptional association copy, inscribed by Oscar Hammerstein to Broadway actor Dickinson Eastham, who originated the role of Seabee Richard West and was the original understudy for the role of Emile DeBecque: "Merry Xmas '49 to Dickinson Eastham from Oscar Hammerstein" and signed by Richard Rodgers.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific premiered on Broadway on April 7, 1949, at the Majestic Theatre and became the second-longest running show in Broadway history. South Pacific is especially notable for showing how "serious dramatic issues became the hallmark of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most notable achievements" (ANB). It won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 1950 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, and nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Authors for Rodgers, Hammerstein II and Logan, Best Composer for Rodgers, Best Director for Logan, and Best Actress in a Musical for Mary Martin. The 1958 Oscar-winning film adaptation starred Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi. Adapted from James Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning Tales of the South Pacific (1947). This copy is inscribed to actor Dickinson Eastham (later Richard Eastham). Eastham's time on Broadway was arguably the high-point of his career. While he originated the ensemble role of Seabee Richard West—a role which allowed him to be one of the first performers of "Bloody Mary"—he also understudied the role of Emile DeBecque and had the opportunity to perform alongside Mary Martin and Janet Blair. Eastham was only the second actor to sing "Some Enchanted Evening" on Broadway and appeared as Emile DeBecque in the cast recording. After South Pacific, Eastham appeared on Broadway with Ethel Merman, whom he later followed to the silver screen in There's No Business Like Show Business. Eastham was a talented singer, but his wife felt non-musical acting was more respectable. Accordingly, Eastham spent the remainder of his career eking out small roles in minor films and guest star spots on television. His best serious role was a 93-episode run on the television show Tombstone Territory. Toward the end of his life, Eastham once again became a familiar face on popular television shows including The Waltons, Barnaby Jones, Falcon Crest, Hart to Hart, and Dallas. Occasional pencil and colored pencil notations to score. Faint appointment pencil notation on rear wrapper.
Interior generally quite nice, red stain at bottom of front wrapper, a few very faint stains to wrappers, and light rubbing and toning to extremities. An extremely good copy, most rare and desirable inscribed and with such an outstanding association.