BWW Reviews: SOUTH PACIFIC is Younger Than Springtime at Music Circus
Half way through the second act of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, racial prejudice breaks the lines in an intense and poignant moment of truth. Here are fairly likeable characters, played by the best musical theatre has to offer, affected nonetheless by what they've been taught. The conflict is at the heart of Music Circus' impeccably executed production, surrounded by gorgeous melodies and plenty of humor led by rough-around-the-edges, but well-meaning Jeff Skowron as navy man Luther Billis.
The script starts with an already in-motion romance during World War II and includes a tender subplot with a quick resolution, but when Eric Kunze as Lt. Cable bursts into his angry, confused "You've Got to be Carefully Taught," South Pacific solidifies itself as the best-written of Rodgers and Hammerstein's work.
Director Glenn Casale entrusts the contrasting serious nature and congeniality of the musical to a capable cast, with Broadway's John Cudia the immediate standout. As Frenchman Emile de Becque, Cudia exhibits a full, rich and overpowering voice during "Some Enchanted Evening." Emile, a plantation owner in the South Pacific, captures the heart of Ensign nurse Nellie Forbush, the bubbly Beth Malone ever the epitome of Southern girlish charm. While she attempts to "Wash that Man Right out of My Hair," the eccentric, but mysterious Amelia McQueen's Bloody Mary tempts Lt. Joseph Cable to the island of Bali Ha'i and offers her daughter in marriage.
The Music Circus scenic design by Scott Klier and Jamie Kumpf is as alluring as the great island itself, with palm tree leaves and dim lights at the plantation to draw audiences in. Even those who claim South Pacific or Rodgers and Hammerstein as classic, but outworn and boring will find enchantment at the California Musical Theatre production.
Through July 27
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Photo Credit: Charr Crail