Diva/Mensch pair for June 1, 2022
The Tony Awards are coming up in a couple weeks, so in their honor I'm going to do an extended tribute to the EGOT. These are people who have won the big four American entertainment awards: the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. There are 16 of them and I'll go through them in the order in which they completed their foursome.
First we have Richard Rodgers. I'm using two songs from *South Pacific* as our diva/mensch pair:
Diva: "This Nearly Was Mine"
Mensch: "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"
In the second act the second male lead, Lt. Cable, sings "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" as a way of confronting his own racism. This was a powerful statement in 1950 and Rodgers and Hammerstein said that it was this song that won the show not just the Tony but the Pulitzer Prize for drama. But they knew it wouldn't go down easy with some audience members so they cleverly built the scene to diffuse any ill feeling. They have the character sing the song to the male lead, Emile De Becque, but they don't allow a break for applause (or non-applause, as the case may be) - - they used underscoring to sustain the scene and some dialogue between the two men, and then the lead sings his show-stopping ballad, "This Nearly Was Mine." The audience hasn't forgotten about the first song, and hopefully it will stick with them for days and weeks after they leave the theater, but in the moment they're swept away by the beauty of the ballad.
Here's the original Lt. Cable, William Tabbert, singing the song, introduced by Hammerstein and Rodgers at the piano:
And the response from Brian Stokes Mitchell: