South Pacific | 11.09.10-11.21.10

 Full of humor and pent up frustration, the men brought the house down with their electrifying performance.

The Lincoln Center Theater revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific opened to a packed house at The Fox Theatre Tuesday night. The high-energy production was crisply executed, as the stellar cast navigated flawlessly through the humor, excitement, suspense and sadness that is South Pacific.
Based on the James Michener book Tales of the South Pacific, the production is set during World War II on an island in the South Pacific Ocean. The story is one in which two love plots intersect: French plantation owner Emile de Becque falls in love with Ensign Nellie Forbush, while Marine Lt. Joe Cable falls for the Tonkinese beauty Liat.
The set design, alternately meant to portray a French plantation, a war-planning center, and a beachfront bath and laundry, added a realistic element to the production. The show made use of a series of floor to ceiling wooden blinds to partition the stage into thirds, front to back. The blinds also allowed for a shimmering effect when water was part of the background.
The highlight of the first act was a rowdy, randy rendition of “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame”, in which a group of Seabees lament the lack of female companionship on the island. Full of humor and pent up frustration, the men brought the house down with their electrifying performance.
The drama of the story emerges during the second act, with less singing, but more action moving the plot along, until the dramatic climax that marks the ending. David Pittsinger is stupendous as de Becque, a role he also played in the Lincoln Center Theater Broadway production of 2008. He brings a booming, operatic bass of a voice to the part, thundering through songs like “Some Enchanted Evening” and leaving the audience with goose bumps.
Carmen Cusack plays his love interest, Ensign Nellie Forbush. Local theatergoers will recognize Cusack from her role as Elphaba in the national tour of Wicked that played here last spring. Cusack perfectly portrays the Little Rock-born and bred Forbush, infusing the small town hick with a touch of sass.
Though the cast was strong from top to bottom, Cusack and Pittsinger stole the show on opening night, and were rewarded with a rousing standing ovation during the curtain call.
All in all, the production lived up to all of the very high praise it has been receiving since its inception on Broadway two years ago. Theater fans would do well to make time for this fabulous revival. | Stephen Fairbanks 
South Pacific runs until Sunday, Nov. 21. Tickets can be purchased through Metrotix.


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