SOUTH PACIFIC Comes to Way Off Broadway, Closes 6/5


The music of Rodgers and Hammerstein returns to The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre with its spring production of the classic South Pacific. The production will close on June 5, 2011.

Without question, the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II was one of the biggest influences on the evolution of musical theatre of all time. They were the first to use music and lyrics to further the story of their shows, in addition to the dialogue and non-musical scenes. It was revolutionary for the time, and now is the standard. Rodgers and Hammerstein could very easily be called the fathers of the modern musical.

Their greatest shows having been written over a half century ago, still hold places in our culture, our hearts, and our minds to this day. Those who would never consider themselves theatre-lovers know of one of this pair's musicals even if they may not actually know who wrote it. Rodgers and Hammerstein have been influencing generations since their first show together which opened on Broadway in 1943. That show did not open with a huge production number, but rather a lone cowboy whistling a tune as he wondered onto the stage. The show was Oklahoma! and it marked the beginning of the Era of Rodgers and Hammerstein on Broadway.

Nearly seventy years later, Rodgers and Hammerstein's musicals are still thrilling audiences. The last Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to appear on Way Off Broadway's stage was The Sound of Music during the 2008 Season. Three years later, it was decided that it was time for South Pacific to make its way to the theatre's stage.

When Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific opens at The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre on Friday evening, April 1st, it will be the first time the classic has been produced by the theatre.

Including the musical in one of Way Off Broadway's seasons had been discussed many times over many years. It was with the recent Lincoln Center Theatre revival of the show, with a more revamped and revitalized feel to it, that made WOB's Executive Producer, Bill Kiska, say it was time for South Pacific to take its first bow at the theatre.

Set in an island paradise during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. Nellie Forbush, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile's proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, the strapping Lt. Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Tonkinese girl with whom he's fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices.

Next to The Sound of Music, South Pacific is arguably Rodgers and Hammerstein's most popular work together. The original Broadway production opened on April 7, 1949 and ran for over 1,900 performances. However, after the show closed five years later in in 1954, there would not be a full revival of the show until 2008. The original production, won 10 Tony Awards; winning in each category it was nominated, including Best Musical. It is also the only show to ever win all four Tony Awards for acting (Best Actor, Actress, Featured Actor, and Featured Actress). The 2008 production took home another seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

In 2005, Carnegie Hall presented a staged concert version with a star-studded cast lead by Reba McEntire as Nellie Forbush, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Emile de Becque, and Alec Baldwin as Luther Billis. Throughout its history, stars like Mary Martin, Cloris Leachman, Florence Henderson, Glenn Close, Kelli O'Hara, and Laura Osnes have all played the role of the show's leading lady, Nellie Forbush.

Leading Way Off Broadway's cast will be Frederick-area favorite Jonny Kigin as Emile de Beque and New York actress Erin McNerney as Nellie Forbush. Joining them onstage will be Betsey Whitmore Brannen as Bloody Mary, Kim Frias as Liat, Samn Huffer as Captain Brackett, Chase Maggiano as Lt. Joe Cable, Steve Steele as Commander Harbison, and Jordan B. Stocksdale as Luther Billis. Rounding out the cast as the islanders, sailors, and nurses will be Kameron Brown, Elizabeth Corsa, Gus Glatzel, Cristen Hall, Samuel Jones, Jr., Ryan Patrick Kane, Lily Kigin, Michael Rostek, Dominique Smiley, Jeremy Trammelle, and Taylor Whidden.

South Pacific will run April 1 - June 5, 2011 with performances every Friday and Saturday evening, matinees on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sunday of each month, and select Sunday evenings.

South Pacific has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and a book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan. Way Off Broadway's production is directed by Bill Kiska, with musical direction by Jordan B. Stocksdale and choreography by Amanda Patten.

For additional information about Way Off Broadway, including all of its productions and events, contact the theatre at (301) 662-6600 or visit

The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre has been a leader in the region's performing arts community since it first opened in 1995. Under the direction of the Kiska Family since 2002, WOB has produced such productions as A Funny Thing . . . Forum, Guys & Dolls, Steel Magnolias, Oklahoma!, Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, The Odd Couple, A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Evita, and Cats, as well as the regional and area premieres of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl - The Musical, Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles, the musical comedy The Wedding Singer, and Mel Brooks' The Producers. Located along Route 40 West, the Golden Mile in Frederick, the theatre also produces a one-of-a-kind children's lunch theatre, as well as countless special events throughout the year. Following Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific at Way Off Broadway will be Hairspray, Chicago, and Christmas Tidings.

Related Articles

Baltimore THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW Baltimore  Follow BWW Baltimore

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...