The Disappearance of Bill Harbison and Dinah Culbert
This chapter is concerned with drafts and sketches involving two principal characters in Tales of the South Pacific that eventually were reduced to bit roles in South Pacific. After discussing the importance of Harbison and Nurse Culbert in Michener’s novel and Hammerstein’s initial interest in them, this chapter traces their gradual excision from the script. For Culbert, this process also involved major changes in two of the show’s best known numbers—“I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy”—and the elimination of a subplot connecting Culbert with the comic character Luther Billis. The examination of Harbison includes a detailed analysis of a long but eventually discarded draft for act 1, scene 1, in which Hammerstein created a satire of the postwar young white collar executive that recalls the postwar writings of C. Wright Mills, William H. Whyte Jr., and David Riesman; the draft also contains a full set of lyrics for which no music is extant.
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