SOUTH PACIFIC A Breathtaking Production Of A Masterpiece

By: Apr. 11, 2012


(SOUTH PACIFIC Photos By Peter Coombs)

SOUTH PACIFIC A Breathtaking Production Of A Masterpiece

The legendary musical, SOUTH PACIFIC, sailed to the Broward Center last night, and we only wish it could run there forever.

No matter what you do to a production of SOUTH PACIFIC, it is still going to have that unbelievably great Rodgers and Hammerstein score.  Decades after SOUTH PACIFIC premiered on Broadway, won the Pulitzer, the Tony and just about every other award available for it to win and became the new long run champ, SOUTH PACIFIC still assaults our senses and perhaps our soul with SOME ENCHANTED EVENING,  A COCKEYED OPTIMIST, THERE IS NOTHIN' LIKE A DAME, BALI HA'I, I'M GONNA WASH THAT MAN RIGHT OUTA MY HAIR, A WONDERFUL GUY, YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME, HAPPY TALK, HONEY BUN, and YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT, just to name the majority.  SOUTH PACIFIC comes from the era when shows tended to be known and remembered largely for their songs.  I can think of no match for the score Rodgers and Hammerstein provided here.  

The National Tour based on the Tony award winning Lincoln Center revival of a few years back, brings us a SOUTH PACIFIC I only wish Rodgers and Hammerstein could see.  And yes of course, I wish all my readers could and will see it too.  For this is a SOUTH PACIFIC that is as bewitching as it is beautiful and from the moment the overture started, I loved it, loved it, loved it!

At the beginning of SOUTH PACIFIC, we are drawn into the show by the magical strains of BALI HA'I, and the scent of flowers waft over us, bringing us a sly and unexpected dizzying sniff of the world of SOUTH PACIFIC.  The show has us captured and it never lets go.

SOUTH PACIFIC on the surface is the telling of two love stories and how ugly, racial prejudice invades our lives.  It is adult, and sometimes a tadful naughty story, as timely and important now as when it first took Broadway by storm.  The book by Hammerstein and original director Joshua Logan has only increased in importance and the book works!  My, my, how wonderfully it works. Yet, make no mistake about it, anything taking place in the theater where SOUTH PACIFIC plays, will be in service to the aforementioned unparalleled palette of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs.

Jennie Sophia is a marvelous Nellie Forbush.  Her singing is as beautiful as she looks, and she is truly heartbreaking when battling with the racist demons within her.  From Ms. Sophia's first few moments onstage she had us in the palm of her hand.  There, we happily stayed.  Bravo Ms. Sophia.

Her 'wonderful guy' is performed by opera star Marcelo Guzzo.  Last night Mr. Guzzo seemed to have a few moments of difficulty when he began to sing, making us think that we may have an Emile de Becque who would be gargling the score rather than singing it.  Fear not.  Within a few moments Mr. Guzzo got his bearings, and his glorious voice and finely tuned performance enveloped us and he truly made last night's performance of SOUTH PACIFIC, "some enchanted evening."      

Lt. Cable is beautifully performed by the very sexy and very talented Shane Donovan.  A fine singer and actor, it is unquestionable why Liat would fall in love with him at first sight.  The audience at the Broward Center last night sure did. 

Comic relief is largely supplied by the assorted nurses and sailors who inhabit SOUTH PACIFIC.  They are led by Christian Marriner as Luther Billis, who was fun in a rather understated performance of a part often played over the top. 


Speaking of comic relief, Bloody Mary is an island woman learning English, one curse phrase at a time, who sells shrunKen Heads, hula skirts, and anything else that will make some cash cross her giddily greasy palm.  Cathy Foy-Mahi comes close to stealing the show as Bloody Mary.  It is she who gets to tell us of the wonders of BALI HA'I.  Her delivery of this song, and her whole performance is absolutely lovely.  Hers is a Bloody Mary of elegance and heart and Ms. Foy-Mahi is nothing short of beguiling. 

I can go on singing the praises of SOUTH PACIFIC, but I would much rather have you buying a ticket to the show or listening to the Original Cast Recording.  This is a top notch production, with all the crafts artists at the top of their game.  I have never seen a greater production of SOUTH PACIFIC and I'm still floored by all its magnificent parts.  From the brilliant lighting design, to the playful set creation, everything melds together from the sure hand of director Bartlett Sher.

See SOUTH PACIFIC.  You will be forever haunted by its magic and those unforgettable songs from the masters, Rodgers and Hammerstein.  The last performance of SOUTH PACIFIC at the Broward Center is April 22.