A time when the enemy was clear and obvious is conjured Sept. 25, when a new national tour of South Pacific begins at the Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH, following two days of previews in Bloomington, IN.
Barry and Fran Weissler and Clear Channel Entertainment produce this revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about love, prejudice and sacrifice during World War II. The production has its roots in a summer run of the show staged by The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, MN. (July 24-Aug. 12). The physical production will also tour. For the tour, the show gains Michael Nouri (Victor/Victoria) in the role of Emile de Becque (Richard Stilwell played the role in Minnesota).
The tour began with a tech process and two public performances Sept. 21-22 at the Auditorium Theatre at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Reviews of the Minnesota staging indicated the book had been trimmed, presumably by director Scott Faris.
For the road, Angie Ha and Jeff Yalun join the company as Ngana and Jerome, respectively.
* Ordway is billed as the production's original producer, and the Weisslers and Clear Channel (producers of Seussical) are taking the show on the road. The tour has the same creative team as the St. Paul staging — Jerry Zaks (Guys and Dolls) is billed as "production consultant" on the staging directed by Scott Faris. Erin Dilly (the touring Martin Guerre, Broadway's Follies) played Nellie Forbush in Minnesota and continues as "the cockeyed optimist."
The 1949 Pulitzer Prize-winning show concerns a 50-ish French planter (de Becque) who falls in love with a Navy nurse on an island during World War II.
An ABC television movie musical version of the classic aired in spring 2001 starring Glenn Close (who also co-produced) as nurse Nellie Forbush and Harry Connick Jr. as Lt. Cable, a rich Philadelphia raised officer who falls for an island girl and struggles with his feelings of racism. Some cuts and changes were made for the TV version.
The company of the Ordway production and tour includes Lewis Cleale as Lt. Cable, Armelia McQueen as Bloody Mary, Kisha Howard as Liat, John Wilkerson as Capt. Brackett, David Warshofsky as Luther Billis, and James Judy as Harbison. The ensemble includes Jody Ashworth, Melissa Rain Anderson, John Ayres, Frank Baiocchi, Justin Bohon, Kevin Covert, Lenny Daniel, Jessica Ferraro, Steve Hogle, Stacie Morgain Lewis, Tony Lord, Dan Maceyak, Sharon Moore, Emily Rozek, Brandon Singleton, Dana Steer, Kate Strohbehn, Debra Walton and Shelby Rebecca Wong.
The hit Broadway musical with songs by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II was drawn from James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific." The plot-specific numbers managed to leap into the public consciousness, and the Hit Parade: "Some Enchanted Evening," "Younger Than Springtime," "Bali H'ai," "A Wonderful Guy," and more. Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza were the original stars.
Director Scott Faris started his career as an actor and would go on to become a Broadway and touring stage manager. He was part of the production team that created Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage and he helmed EFX! starring Michael Crawford. He has also directed Chicago internationally.
Jocef Baquilod and Joreen Baquilod played Jerome and Ngana, respectively, for the Ordway.
South Pacific was considered groundbreaking for the commingling of an exotic wartime locale, its romantic plot and score and its serious exploration of racial bigotry, summed up in the Hammerstein lyric, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught." That song is generally thought to be the reason the musical captured the Pulitzer Prize. Co-librettist Josh Logan's direction was hailed for its fluidity and sense of cinematic flow.
— By Kenneth Jones