South Pacific premiered April 7, 1949, to critical and popular acclaim. In his New York Times review, Brooks Atkinson called it "a magnificent musical drama...as lively, warm, fresh, and beautiful as we had all hoped that it would be."
In 1950, the production won each of its 10 Tony nominations. South Pacific holds the distinction of being the only musical in Tony Award history to dominate all four acting categories: Mary Martin (as Nellie Forbush), Ezio Pinza (Emile De Becque), Juanita Hall (Bloody Mary) and Myron McCormick (Luther Billis).
The production also received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the second musical to claim the honor. The smash hit went on to play a 1,925-performance run of nearly five years.