South Pacific

Music by Richard Rodgerssp logo

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Book by Oscar Hammerstein II & Joshua Logan

Adapted from James A. Michener’s novel Tales of the South Pacific

Directed & Choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller

Conductor Roger L. Bingman

Produced by Light Opera Works

At Cahn Auditorium. Evanston

Romance, war, and racism are explored through 1949 sensibilities with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s great craftsmanship

In a remount of their 2006 production, Light Opera Works has presented an even more artistic and truthful glimpse into the lives of the sailors during World War II in  South Pacific. Employing a 30 member orchestra to magnificently present Richard Rodgers’ score, a Light Opera Works tradition, gave a haunting emotional power to the music that never sounded so fine!  Director Rudy Hogenmiller presented a full, uncut mounting just as it was originally presented on Broadway in 1949 that ran for 1925 performances. The  romantic score is enriched by the sweeping sound of the full orchestra. That is enough reason to get to Cahn Auditorium to see this triumphant production.

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South Pacific is the story of Nellie Forbush (a spunky Sarah Larson ), a nurse on a south pacific island during world War II, who falls in love with an older French plantation owner, Emile de Becque (the rich voiced Larry Adams). She has trouble with de Becque’s interracial children. Marine Lt. Cable falls in love with a Polynesian girl named Liat. He and de Becque go off on a war mission together while CB Luther Billis and the sailors plot to get to Bali Ha’i. Only de Becque returns to Nellie’s open arms.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein’s songs are some of the most romantic and memorable ever written for the stage. From “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” to the deeply romantic “Some Enchanted Evening,” to “A Cockeyed Optimist,” to the enticing “Bali Ha’i,” we enjoy a varied, melodic score with sing-able lyrics that have become standards in American culture.

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Sarah Larson, as Nellie Forbush, delivers a vibrant, innocence and vitality to her role. She demonstrates fine vocals. Her “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-A My Hair” and “A Wonderful Guy” were heartwarming. Larry Adams, as De Becque, has the command and the vocal range to land “Some Enchanted Evening” and “This Nearly Was Mine” with emotional power. Adams ‘owns’ this role.

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Yvonne Strumecki, as Bloody Mary, revisits her 2006 role by belting her “Bali Ha’i” number with haunting eloquence. Her cute “Happy Talk” was engagingly romantic. Justin Adair’s Lt. Cable nailed his songs showing off his rich powerful voice, especially “Younger Than Springtime” and “You’ve Got To be Carefully Taught.” Brian Zaine was spirited as the charismatic sailor, Luther Billis leading the ensemble of CB’s.

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This production of South Pacific has outstanding sets (by Adam Veness) with stellar lighting (by Andrew Meyers) that together with the full sound of Roger L. Bingman’s orchestra created a most enchanted production.  It is refreshing to see this classic ingeniously written and composed musical play in it’s original form without any cuts utilizing all the original elements that make it one of the finest artful musical ever! Take anyone who has never witnessed this fantastic musical to Cahn Auditorium in Evanston to experience one of the finest blends of lyrics to music to tell a story ever written for the stage.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: August 15, 2015

For more info checkout the South Pacific page at theatreinchicago.com

At At Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL, www.lightoperaworks.com, 847-920-5340, tickets $34-$94, Wed. Aug 19 at 2pm, Friday, Aug. 21 at 8 pm, Sat. Aug. 22 at 8 pm, Sunday, Aug. 23 at 2 pm, Wed. Aug. 26 at 2 pm, Sat. Aug 29 at 8 pm, Sunday, Aug 30 at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 45 minutes with intermission, through August 30, 2015

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