Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 20 August 2003
South Pacific, Production Company, Aug 20, 2003
South Pacific by Richard Rogers & OscarHammerstein Book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan The Production Company
State Theatre, Melbourne, Aug 20 to 24, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
South Pacific, by Rogers and Hammerstein, is chock-filled with memorable, singable melodies.
Although this concert version by The Production Company is without all the bells and whistles of a full production, it is entertaining both musically and as a narrative.
Directors, John Diedrich and Jo-Anne Robinson, keep the stage action and choreography simple and concentrate on character and story.
The orchestra, conducted by Musical Director, Guy Noble, is a fine ensemble that takes pride of place on stage.
Rogers and Hammerstein, with Joshua Logan, created this musical hit in 1949 based on James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific.
Set on a Pacific island during World War Two, it deals with not one, but two love stories.
Nellie Forbush, an American nurse, falls in love with French plantation owner, Emile de Becque, (John Diedrich OK) a widower with half-Polynesian children.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Joe Cable, (Matt Hetherington) falls for an island girl, Liat (Soolin Ong-Tan).
It is a story of romance and war with plenty of goofy songs and romantic ballads that spring readily to our lips.
I'm In Love With a Wonderful Guy, Some Enchanted Evening and Younger Than Springtime are classics in the romantic repertoire.
I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair gives the sexy chorus of nurses a vehicle while There Is Nothing Like A Dame is a rousing tune by the troupe of GIs.
A less well-known song, You've Got to Be Carefully Taught, is profoundly critical of the racism inherent in the American culture and thus in Cable and Nurse Nellie.
Diedrich as the cultured, romantic Frenchman, has a warm voice, credible accent and plays Emile with dignity and simple charm.
Katrina Retallick plays the unsophisticated Nellie with a perkiness and brightness in her voice reminiscent of Mitzi Gaynor in the 1958 film.
As the enterprising and naughty GI , Luther Billis, Marty Fields brings a cheekiness and comic energy that allows the dynamic of scenes to shift.
April-Marie Nebo has a wicked glint in her eye and richness in her voice as Bloody Mary, the Islander making a huge profit out of selling grass skirts to Americans.
Richard Jeziorny provides a simple, movable set design. Lighting by Philip Lethlean spills vivid colour and textured surfaces onto a backdrop, creating the day and night sky of the island.
Although this production lacks some verve, it is a fun night of witty and energetic musical theatre.