Few musicals have South Pacific's sheer staying power. Originally premiering on Broadway in 1949, the Pulitzer Prize-winning show won ten Tony awards as well as worldwide acclaim. Audiences in the Farmville area will doubtless be pleased that the Waterworks Players Community Theater is producing their own revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic island romance.
Music has always been the true centerpiece of this show. Hit songs such as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Ha'i,” “I Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” and “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” are all crowd pleasers and many of the show's other tunes are well-known favorites as well. Chris Swanson (Emile deBeque), Katie Robey (Nellie Forbush) and Beau Bryan (Joseph Cable) all turn in impressive and sensitive vocal performances-especially given South Pacific's significant demands in terms of range and emotional expression. Swanson ably handles many of the shows trickier ballads, and Kathleen Lily's (Bloody Mary) voice is particularly striking when delivering the haunting “Bali Ha'i,” then shifting to the upbeat “Happy Talk.”
Effective comedy relief is provided by Jordan Whiley in the role of Luther Billis, and the ensemble cast of sailors and nurses offers enthusiastic contribution-both on the dramatic and musical fronts. Notably valuable supporting actors include Jay Lynn (Capt. George Brackett), Charles White (Cmdr. William Harbison), Matthew Beachy (Lt. Buzz Adams) and Greg Tsigaridas (Professor). Marianne Congleton plays the show's quietly alluring Liat.
Audiences will be pleased to find South Pacific is a package that delivers what's expected-romance, and a message of racial tolerance and acceptance-all gift-wrapped in world-famous music.