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South Pacific
a Musical
by Richard Rodgers (music), Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics, book), Joshua Logan (book)

COMPANY : Cumming Playhouse [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Cumming Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 5544

SHOWING : July 11, 2019 - August 04, 2019



Love transcends the harsh realities of war and cultural conflict in this sweeping Pulitzer Prize-winning tale centered around two unlikely love stories. Set in a tropical island paradise during World War II, this Rodgers & Hammerstein classic features some of the most beautiful music ever composed, woven into an inspiring story cherished the world over. The beloved songs include “Some Enchanted Evening” , “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair”, “There Is Nothing Like a Dame”, and “Younger Than Springtime”. Come join American sailors, Navy nurses, and Island locals who are ready to take you to “Bali Ha’i”.

Director Glenda Tibbals Gray
Quale/McCaffrey Kyle Bryde
Professor Eddie Estrada
Emile de Becque Joe Goode
Luther Billis Gary Heffelfinger
Bloody Mary Carla Selden
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A Bowl of Jell-O
by playgoer
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
"South Pacific" is a classic musical, featuring a score and script so strong that the show can withstand substandard productions, as long as they attempt to honor the material. MGBaker Productions’ version of "South Pacific" in Cumming is not substandard, but doesn’t add pleasures beyond those present in the raw material. It’s a perfectly acceptable rendition of the show with pleasant performances by an attractive cast with pleasant voices.

The situation seen at the start of the show is a bit of a misfire. Instead of two half-Polynesian children, we see the two actual children of the male lead, Emile de Becque (Joe Goode). That makes a later moment fall flat, when Nellie Forbush (Taylor Cassell) sarcastically states that the children look just like their father. They do. And when the actor playing Captain George Brackett (Don Weldon) messes up and says that Emile de Becque was married to a French woman, rather than to a Polynesian woman, it calls into question if the production has decided to eviscerate the racial component of the story to justify a nearly all-white cast. That’s not the case, but it does come across as an odd aspect of the production.

The physical production is fine. Cheryl Rogers’ costumes are quite good, and the set designed by David McDonald and Glenda Gray is functional, with blown-up photos of Polynesian vistas on flats that open on the sides of the stage to show Emile’s terrace stage left and the Captain’s office stage right. Joel Noles’ lighting and sound design keeps things visible and audible.

Performances are good across the board. Ms. Cassell is perky and spunky as Nellie, Mr. Goode is tall and elegant as Emile, Gary Heffelfinger is energetic as Luther Billis, and Carla Selden is brash and loud as Bloody Mary. All have good voices, as does Josh Agri as Lt. Joseph Cable. The minor roles are filled by capable individuals who don’t outshine the principals.

Glenda Gray has directed the show to keep the action flowing. Her choreography is nothing to write home about, but her blocking makes imaginative use of the audience aisles for entrances and exits. Her musical direction has gotten good vocal performances out of her cast, and the acting and singing are on a par, with neither overwhelming the other.

Musical accompaniment is provided by two pianists, Annie Cook and David Stephens. There’s some roughness when both pianos are in use, such as in the overture, but when single-piano accompaniment is in effect, it sounds darn good. You don’t get the lushness a full orchestra would give, but the sound is balanced between vocals and accompaniment.

"South Pacific" has a terrific story and score, and the production at Cumming’s School Street Playhouse lets the quality of the material shine through. There are no transcendent moments, but the production maintains interest throughout. It’s a solid community theatre effort that will please anyone unfamiliar with the show. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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