On June 28, 1902, Richard Rodgers was born. He grew up to become a composer, producer and arts educator. For his talents he was recognized with two Pulitzer Prizes, a Kennedy Center Honor, and seven Tony Awards.
He is featured on this blog, because one of his shows was the musical South Pacific. The fictional heroine was Little Rock native Nellie Forbush. Through the success of the show, this “cock-eyed optimist” represented Little Rock to the world. Rodgers composed a song called “My Girl Back Home” which contained references to Little Rock. It was cut from South Pacific before it opened on Broadway in April 1949. However it was used in the movie version and appeared in the 2008 Broadway revival.
The works of Rodgers have been performed by the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Wildwood Park for the Arts, Little Rock Wind Symphony and many other cultural organizations. Numerous tours of Richard Rodgers musicals have been performed at Robinson Center Music Hall since it first opened in 1940.