South Pacific is a musical classic from composer Richard Rogers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II that first appeared on Broadway in 1949. Set in an island paradise in the South Pacific in 1943 during World War II, it follows the love story between Arkansas native and US Navy nurse Nellie and French planter Emile, who escaped to the island from France many years before and is now a widower raising his two children. Another love story develops between Liat, a local girl living on the island of Bali Ha′i, and Lieutenant Cable, who is conflicted with the duty he owes to his country and the love he feels for Liat.
As the lights come up on stage and the dual pianos begin the overture, a nearly full house waits with bated breath. Suddenly, two adorable children playfully chase each other onto the stage and sing “Dites-Moi”. And in that moment the audience is transported to the South Pacific. As the show continues, the creative staging from Director Danielle Howard, the inventive set design by Szu-Feng Cheng, and the soothing lighting design by Kelly Gibson fully immerses the audience in the show.
While overall the cast of about twenty was good, there were certainly a few standout performances. First, was the fantastically funny Linette Roungchun as Bloody Mary. Her rendition of “Bali Ha′i” was wonderfully performed and had the audience wishing we could all go to the beautiful island. Next was the charismatic and amusing performance given by Kevin Mahaney who played Luther Billis. From the moment he walked onto the stage through his hysterical dance number, “Honey Bun”, with Nellie, played by Allie Wing, his characterization and comedic timing were spot on. His vocals, as he demonstrated in “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame”, were some of the best in the show.
Other notable moments include Connor McGrath’s (Lt. Cable) rendition of “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” which was poignant and yet a sad reminder of prejudices that still exist today.
Paul Soper’s (Emile De Becque) well-trained opera voice was wonderfully showcased in “Some Enchanted Evening” and “This Nearly Was Mine”. Allie Wing (Ensign Nellie Forbush) was delightful throughout; though her voice was sometimes drowned out if others were also singing. However, her charming portrayal of Nellie and the joy she expressed during numbers such as “A Cockeyed Optimist”, “Wonderful Guy” and “Hunny Bun” had the audience hoping her love story would end happily.
South Pacific at Seacoast Repertory Theatre is a well done version of a musical classic and plays Thursdays- Sundays until August 2nd. For more information and tickets visit www.seacoastrep.org
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