Highly Recommended **** One thing audiences can be sure of when they attend a production that Light Opera Works does, “musical magic” as Roger L. Bingaman and his orchestra bring us the feeling that original audiences felt as they witnessed the original Broadway production. Because they use a full orchestra, at a very high cost, they are limited to the number of performances. They continue to go for the “quality over quantity” in each production they bring us, and it is no surprise that their current production- Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” is a delight from start to finish. This musical was first presented in 1949, so it is truly a classic. Based on the writings of James Michener, “Tales of the South Pacific”, this is a simple story that deals with World War II, but from a different view. While the main story is about the war, this musical is more about people, from different backgrounds who are brought together by circumstance, and how they react and interact with each other.
The main characters are a nurse, Nellie Forbush (a powerful performance by Sarah Larson) from Little Rock Arkansas who finds herself swept off her feet by a French plantation owner residing on this island in the South Pacific. He has power, wealth and two children as well as some secrets in his past. As it turns out, he becomes someone who helps make life easier for this island of navy fighters with the aid of a Marine, Lt Cable (deftly handled by Justin Adair) who also finds himself falling in love with someone of a different background. The underlying theme of the show is truly about the prejudice that people feel and in this case have been feeling for a great number of years. In the second act, one of the songs, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” hits the nail on the head. We are not born with hate in our hearts- we are taught to hate those that our parents hate and as we see from newspaper headlines, I am sorry to say, on a regular basis, this still continues in our world.
But there is a love story in this lengthy musical. Yes, almost three hours of songs that most of us have heard fro decades; “This Nearly Was Mine”, “Honey Bun”, “Happy Talk” , “A Cockeyed Optimist”, “Bloody Mary”, “Bali Hai’s (solidly done by Yvonne Strumecki, who is revisiting a role she was born to play), “There is Nothing Like A Dame” and the one that brings a chill to my spine ,”Some Enchanted Evening “( Larry Adams brings his dynamic charm to the role of the Frenchman Emile de Becque and makes every note have true meaning). There are other memorable songs in this show, probably one of the longest of lists and directorRudy Hogenmiller has assembled a wonderful cast of nurses and sailors to make this show happen. Hogenmiller also handles the choreography, using the stage to its best advantage. The cast includes the very funny Brian Zane in the comic role of Luther Billis- Angel Abcede, Alexis Aponte, Alexis Armstrong, Ariana Cappuccitti, Joe Capstick, John Cardone, Melissa Crabtree, Matt Edmonds, Jomar Ferreras, Dan Gold, Amanda Horvath, Dylan Lainez, Christopher MacGregor,Kelly Maryanski, Patrick Perry, Elena Romanowski, Russell Alan Rowe, Zachary Lee Schley, Kara Schoenhofer, David Servillo, Kirk Swank, Denzel Tsopnang, Alex Walker, Korey White and Greg Zawada, each and every one, a high energy perfomer.
The set by Adam Veness uses the stage at Cahn Auditorium to its full advantage. The filmy curtains that are used to cover scene changes did blow a bit more than was expected, but this was the smallest of glitches to an otherwise flawless production. There were a few sound problems as well, but wonder of wonders, during the “Wash That Man Out Of My Hair” number, in a make shift shower “stall” with real water, we heard every word perfectly, thanks to Aaron Quick , and the lighting (Andrew H. Meyers) and costumes (Sydney Dufka and Catherine Young) are amazingly accurate.
“South Pacific” will only be performed through the 30th, so if you want to have this experience, here are the performance dates and times:
Wednesday, August 19th at 2 p.m
Friday, August 21st 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 22nd 8 p.m.
Sundays, August 23rd 2 p.m.
Saturday, August 29th 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 30 2 p.m.
The theater is The Cahn Auditorium at 600 Emerson Street on the Northwestern campus. Just north of Church Street along Chicago Avenue, where it turns into Sheridan Road. There is a public garage nearby as well as some street parking.
Tickets range from $34 with special rates for seniors and those under 21. It is suggested that due to content and length, this show is suitable for those ten and older. and can be ordered by calling 847-920-5360 or visiting www.LightOperaWorks.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “South Pacific”