On Stage: South Pacific

The Company performs “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” – photo by Peter Coombs

“South Pacific” was one of those rare classic musicals that I’d never seen performed on stage. It doesn’t make the rounds much and it never made the cut at Stockton High School.

All I knew about it was that the Visitation Academy performed it during the early ’80s when The Wife was a student. I always like thinking of an all-girl Catholic school cast  jumping around on stage dressed as Seebees singing “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame.” We got stuck doing “Oliver!”

The Lincoln Center Theater production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” opened last night at the Fox Theatre. The show started promptly at 8 p.m. with — an Overture! I love overtures. Modern musicals are missing out by not including those lovely instrumental previews. Plus, they give stragglers time to find their seats before the action begins.

David Pittsinger as Emile de Becque and Carmen Cusack as Nellie Forbush – photo by Craig Schwartz

Adapted from James A. Michner’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” the story takes place on two islands in the South Pacific during World War II. The central characters are Emile de Becque (David Pittsinger), a French plantation owner on the main island; Ensign Nellie Forbush (Carmen Cusack), the nurse he loves; and Lt. Joseph Cable (Anderson Davis), a Marine who has come to the island to talk Emile into going with him on a suicide mission.

There are also several colorful supporting characters and, because this is a musical, two love stories. Love stories with added racism.

The story’s OK but there are two reasons you should see “South Pacific.” First is the wonderful score, featuring the classics “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” and “Honey Bun.” I love old school musicals — the kind with actual songs that you can sing along with.

Of course, great songs mean nothing if the cast can’t deliver and boy, do they. David Pittsinger is amazing. He’s so good they haul him out about every 10 minutes to sing “Some Enchanted Evening” — and instead of being annoying, you wish he’d done it even more. Carmen Cusack is an equally gifted singer, in fact, everyone in the show does a great job.

The set design is clever, the orchestra is great — this is just an overall great show. If you love “South Pacific” you should definitely see it. If you love musical theater you should see it. If you love “Some Enchanted Evening,” you really, really need to see it.

“South Pacific” runs through Nov. 21 at the Fox Theatre. http://www.fabulousfox.com/

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2 responses to “On Stage: South Pacific

  1. Comics…vampires…South Pacific. You’re a complicated man Ronny Roy.

  2. Is Carmen one of THE Cusacks?

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