From the moment the orchestra begins the first notes of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s score for “South Pacific” you will know you are in for one very enchanted evening.
With an eye to every detail, the producers of Marriott Theatre’s “South Pacific” made the most of the round stage and the abundant talents of the cast.
Written in 1949 at a time when anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books, and a time of war when soldiers and their blood were still segregated, you will find no castor oil scolds of immorality here. Rodgers and Hammerstein (with book co-authored by Joshua Logan) tackled the subject of racism in all its ugliness with a score and story so beautiful it makes moral points go down like the tastiest treats. No wonder that the original Broadway production won ten Tony Awards including Best Musical and the 2008 Broadway Revival won 7 Tony Awards.
Marriott’s production is worthy of these theatrical giants before them. Arguably, this production is also the or one of the best uses of the round stage of the Marriott Theatre.
We are brought into the world of a group of American sailors and Navy nurses stationed in the South Pacific during World War II.
A self-described hick, nurse Nellie Forbush (Elizabeth Lanza), falls in love with a handsome and sophisticated older Frenchman who has long lived on the island, Emile de Becque (Stephen R. Bunrock).
At the same time, a parallel love affair kindles between a Princeton grad Lt. Joe Cable (Ben Jacoby) and Liat (Emily Morales), daughter of the indomitable “Bloody Mary” (Bethany Thomas), so named for her love of chewing betel nuts, a tradition familiar to any traveler to Southeastern Asia or parts of the Pacific.
We weep when fate destroys one love and we cheer when love triumphs over the hate of racist reflexes.
It’s not all love.
There is also a lot of fun scheming among the sex-starved sailors and their de facto gang leader Luther Billis (Stef Tovar) who never fails to charm with forays to find skirts and shrunken heads alike.
If you are not smiling from ear-to-ear as they pine for dames while they exercise away their lust you are simply inert. The nurses—singing or dancing—similarly entertain us to the max.
If you don’t hear Bali Ha’I calling, you are deaf.
The two romantic leads draw us into their romance by oozing both personal and couple chemistry with each note and each line.
When Nellie breaks off their romance, we are as crestfallen as she and as ready for distraction as the Thanksgiving Party song “Honey Bun” will be.
It does not matter if you already know the story and you already know the songs. You probably do know all the music even though you might not realize that it came from this musical.
When you leave you will be making “Happy Talk”. It’s hard to imagine otherwise.
April 10 - June 2, 2013
The Marriott Theatre
10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire
$40 - $48
Call Box Office at 847.634.0200 or visit www.MarriottTheatre.com for more info and tickets.