Biden-Trump Call; Pro-Union Provision; an Enchanted Evening

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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, April 7, 2020. In the past 24 hours, some 1,500 Americans have died from the coronavirus, Britain’s prime minister has been put in intensive care, and political “leaders” in Wisconsin have chosen partisanship over common sense: The state will conduct a primary election today amid the lockdown.

Yet, most people find a way to persevere and help each other through the pandemic. Actor John Krasinski has been producing a report on a YouTube channel he’s dubbed SGN (“Some Good News”) -- and yesterday’s installment was special. Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, promised a 9-year-old girl disappointed by a canceled “Hamilton” musical that they would fly her to New York when the quarantine is lifted to see the show.

As if that wasn’t generous enough, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda made a guest appearance on SGN, along with other stars. In a Zoom chat, they sang her some songs. It was perfect.

Long before “Hamilton,” there was “South Pacific,” which opened on Broadway 71 years ago today. I’ve written about this musical before, but it seems appropriate to do so again this morning.

First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

*  *  *

No More Call Waiting: Trump and Biden Finally Connect. Phil Wegmann reports on the conversation between the presidential opponents.

Union Provision Was Secretly Slipped Into COVID-19 Relief Bill. Susan Crabtree has the story.

All-Mail Vote: Great for Lawyers, Awful for Election Integrity. Democrats’ effort to eliminate in-person voting is a power grab during the COVID-19 pandemic, Adam Brandon warns.

COVID-19 Response Elevates Pharma in Public’s Eye. U.S. drug makers are running full steam ahead to defeat the killer virus, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, Jack Kalavritinos writes.

Tom Coburn: A Beacon in Dark Times. He was tough and demanding, but the budget hawk from Oklahoma was perhaps best known for his uncommon decency. John Hart has this remembrance of Coburn, who died last week.

Defense Budget Implications of the Pandemic. In RealClearDefense, a quartet of authors has this assessment.

Westward, Ho! BLM Orders Shift of D.C.-Based Staff. Top staff at the Bureau of Land Management have been told to pack up, but most aren’t climbing aboard the wagon train, Vince Bielski reports for RealClearInvestigations.

Layoffs Are Sad, But Peter Navarro’s Would Be an Exception. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny assails the White House adviser’s calls to "Buy American" in efforts to combat the coronavirus.

*  *  *

The musical unveiled on April 7, 1949, at New York City's Majestic Theatre was based on “Tales of the South Pacific,” a collection of fictional stories by James Michener. The theatrical version was co-authored by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Joshua Logan.

Rodgers and Hammerstein had revolutionized the Broadway musical form with “Oklahoma!” six years earlier and with “South Pacific” they were taking a bold step into social commentary. Logan was brought in not because he was a veteran of the theater, but because he was a veteran of the U.S. Army who could help write the parts dealing with military life.

By 1949, Rodgers and Hammerstein were expected to produce hits, but that hardly accounts for the enthusiastic reception accorded “South Pacific.” It was first staged in New Haven, Conn., where the locals realized immediately what they had. “‘South Pacific' should make history,” gushed the New Haven Register. In Boston, the show’s next port of call, playwright George S. Kaufman quipped that it was so popular that the crowds standing in line at the Shubert Theatre “don’t actually want anything -- they just want to push money under the doors.”

The audience at the Broadway premiere on April 7, 1949, included the elite of New York’s art world, so the play's backers rented the roof of the St. Regis Hotel for an after-party. They even ordered 200 copies of the early edition of the New York Times, so guests could read the review. Rodgers and Hammerstein usually eschewed that kind of thing. Why jinx yourself? But there was no danger this time. Famed Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, who sat in his customary front-row seat that night, wrote a glowing review.

The real critics -- members of the audience -- had already voted with their feet. Or maybe I should say with their hands: The opening night performance took a long time to complete, as the crowd kept stopping the show with extended applause after each of the songs. Several of those numbers, including “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Younger Than Springtime,” are popular torch songs to this day. 

And why not? Those songs were brilliant in their composition, sung beautifully by a cast that included Mary Martin and opera star Ezio Pinza, and also carried enlightened social messages, the chief one being that love can thrive even in wartime -- and is more powerful than racism. 

Carl M. Cannon 
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.



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