Review Roundup: SOUTH PACIFIC at Flat Rock Playhouse; What Did The Critics Think?

Review Roundup: SOUTH PACIFIC at Flat Rock Playhouse; What Did The Critics Think?Flat Rock Playhouse continues the 2019 Season with summer blockbuster musical and Broadway classic, South Pacific. Known for its glorious score by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the show transports audiences to the Pacific Islands in World War II as young couples struggle with the dynamics of love, war, and faith. Yet, South Pacific also showcases a vibrant, delightful comedic side found in the business of everyday life: raising children, relationship squabbles, and workplace gossip.

South Pacific features a cast of professional equity actors and the 2019 Apprentice Class. Equity members include: Sarah Stevens(Nellie Forbush), Andrew O'Shanick(Emile De Becque), Yvonne Strumecki(Bloody Mary), Andrew Foote(Luther Billis), Brendan Malafronte(Stew Pot), Michael Miller(Professor), Kevin Hack(Lt. Cable), Preston Dyar(Capt. George Brackett), Willie Repoley(Cmdr. William Harbison), Kevin Kulp(Henry), Steven Grant Douglas(Lt. Buzz Adams, Yeoman Herbert Quale), Erin Rubico(Lead Nurse), Maddie Franke(Ensign Dinah Murphy & Dance Captain), Maria Buchanan(Ensign Janet MacGregor).

South Pacific will be directed by Producing Artistic Director, Lisa K. Bryant. Matthew Glover will serve as Choreographer with Maddie Frankeas Dance Captain and Briana Stone as Assistant Dance Captain. Alex Sheilds will serve as Music Director. Bill Mu oz will serve as Stage Manager along with Amelia Driscoll as Assistant Stage Manager. Adam Goodrum will serve as Production Manager. Dennis C. Maulden, CJ Barnwell, Ashli Arnold Crump, David Gerena, and Patrick W. Lord will serve as Scenic, Lighting, Costume, Sound, and Projection Design respectively. Cassidy Bowles will design the properties.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Steve Wong, Blue Ridge Now: The on-stage chemistry between leading lady Stevens and leading man O'Shanick was palatable and delicious. Stevens portrayed Nellie not so much as naive, but rather caught up in love and surprised by her own prejudices. O'Shanick was dashing and at peace with his decision to stay uninvolved with the war - until he fell in love, which he pursued most gentlemanly and heroically. She sang extremely well; he sang with confidence matched with talent. The romance between Lt. Cable and Liat was hotter because of their youth. But like the flames of passion often do, they blaze bright for a short while only to die because of lack of life experiences. Hack was excellent as the ideal young officer with a bright future, only to be smitten by love and her mother.

Bruce Steele and Edward Arnaudin, Asheville Movies: Edwin Arnaudin: I strongly disliked it and was fairly bored throughout - but that's due to the material, not the valiant effort of the cast and crew. We can get into specific standout performances, but I was especially taken with Dennis C. Maulden's convincing scenic design and Patrick W. Lord's innovative and informative projection work. However, it's all in the service of a story that hasn't aged well and, as with our recent experience with Hello, Dolly! at The Peace Center, has me wondering why it became a beloved creation in 1949 and questioning its cultural longevity. Bruce: The simple answer is the amazing score, which I'm certain is what inspired the enthusiastic standing ovation opening night at Flat Rock. Baby Boomers, and Broadway aficionados of any age, grew up on these songs: "Some Enchanted Evening," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair," "Younger Than Springtime," "This Nearly Was Mine," among others. Led Zeppelin borrowed a riff from "Bali Ha'i" for their "Immigrant Song," and even the non-PC "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" still packs quite a joyful kick, especially as performed by Flat Rock's talented crew of Seabees.

Olivia Stuller, Henderson Lightening: A common theme for the composer/lyricist duo was the blending of comedy and drama to articulate a political or social issue. They adorn the message in song and dance, wit and one-liners, and thus make their point inoffensively. "South Pacific" follows the trend, tackling racism in a dizzying display of spinning skirts, high-kicks, intricate scenery and songs so catchy the audience can't help but be engrossed from the start. The Flat Rock Playhouse's production, directed by Lisa K. Bryant and choreographed by Matthew Glover, is every bit as dazzling as this masterpiece deserves. From the opening curtain, the Playhouse's well-designed Mainstage is on full display, all assets in use at once to establish the setting: Hawaii during World War II. The stage's generous depth and layers of rotating floor allow characters to spin on and off between bamboo curtains of various distances, creating the organized hubbub of an American Naval base. The curtains serve as both screen for the projection of real film from the war, and see-through divisions of various cameos. The lighting is to credit here, alternating between up and down-stage to draw focus where needed. All set to a triumphant, vibrant score that gives militant sound bites the appropriate weight. After all, this is war.

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