Pacific Overtures is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a libretto by John Weidman, and additional material by Hugh Wheeler. The musical is set in 1853 Japan and follows the difficult Westernization o...展开f Japan, through the lives of two friends caught in the change. The title of the work is ironic, nodding toward "overture" as a musical form, noting that the initiatives of the Western powers for commercial exploitation of the Pacific nation were anything but "pacific" (or peaceable) overtures. Built around a quasi-Japanese pentatonic scale, the music contrasts Japanese contemplation ("There is No Other Way") with Western ingenuousness ("Please Hello," "Pretty Lady").
The original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures in 1976 was presented in Kabuki style, with men playing women's parts and set changes made in full view of the audience by people dressed in black. It opened to mixed reviews and closed after six months, nevertheless being nominated for ten Tony Awards. According to Steven Suskin, the score is "uniformly interesting" and contains "some of Sondheim's finest writing".