BWW Reviews: Wolf Trap's SOUTH PACIFIC is Certainly 'Some Enchanted Evening'
Enchanted, by definition, is "magical" or "bewitching". Wolf Trap fits the bill perfectly during its brief summer run of South Pacific, playing now through June 3, 2012. The stars were out, the air was cool, and the arts did, in fact, come out to play. Though the playing was fierce, as the cast and crew of Pacific put on an earth-shattering revival of the great Rodgers and Hammerstein theatrical hit. It was, without a doubt, "Some Enchanted Evening."
Pacific is an evolution of James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, and is a tribute to life in the South Pacific during World War II. The story centers on an American nurse, Ms. Nellie Forbush (played by Rachel Rhodes-Devey), stationed at a U.S. Naval base who falls in love with a French plantation owner, Mr. Emile de Becque (played by Marcelo Guzzo). His accent, maturity, and suave sophistication make her quickly forget the "fellas back in Little Rock, Arkansas." Upon learning that Mr. de Becque has a complicated past from a previous relationship, Ms. Forbush's infatuations are suddenly turned upside-down and she struggles deeply with pursuing a relationship with him.
Ms. Forbush is not alone, however, in her struggles with love. A second romance develops between a U.S. Lieutenant and a young Asian woman from the forbidden Bali Ha'I island. To complicate matters, he is engaged to another back at home, yet he falls instantly for the island beauty, Liat, and succumbs to the romance, waves, and never-ending nights of the South Pacific.
Pacific is considered one of the greatest Broadway musicals, having premiered in 1949. Oddly enough, for as long as this momentous musical has made its tour from stage to stage, audience members recognize it for its songs, not its complex and weaved plot. It's the incredible, toe-tapping and tender musical numbers that leave a lasting memory in the minds of all those fortunate enough to see Pacific. Not a soul in the audience of Wolf Trap's production wasn't humming along to "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" or "Some Enchanted Evening". The energetic performance of "We Ain't Got Dames" instantly brings to mind memories of previous performances of this classic, as only in the rare case is a patron witnessing this theater magic for the first time.
There is much I could write about this wondrous production - it would truly be an outpouring of accolades and compliments to such a classic production. I am convinced, however, that the best thing I can write about this show is, simply: Go see it. It will be an evening you won't soon forget. Bring a bottle of wine, a blanket, grab some bread and cheese and completely immerse yourself in one of Broadway's legendary productions. Both Ms. Rhodes-Devey and Mr. Guzzo's voices will enchant and mesmerize you, filling the rafters with incredible songs and music, beckoning to a forgotten time.
The beauty of Pacific is that it is not only a fantastical piece of theater art, but if you listen, if you really listen, you are transported to a wonderful time in our nation's history of true romance, heroics, and patriotism that is fading too quickly from the memories of our younger generations.
SOUTH PACIFIC runs through June 3 at the Filene Center. For tickets and more information, visit www.wolftrap.org.Photo courtesy Wolf Trap.