I remarked to my friend last night that South Pacific is the first big musical that I saw, both on screen and in the Theatre, so it was really lovely to see that it is still fresh and fun, despite its age. This stage version of the show, originally presented in New York by the Lincoln Center Theater, is at times sweet and funny, then dark and somewhat sinister as the love story of a Navy nurse and an older French plantation owner is played against the backdrop of World War 2 and issues surrounding racism.
The score of the show is just beautiful and is done real justice by the superb cast of this touring production. Samantha Womack, a veteran of the London Barbican production, but familiar as Ronnie Mitchell in Eastenders, was at turns peppy, funny and terribly heartbroken but was consistently good throughout, singing beautifully and portraying naive nurse Nellie Forbush with such heart that you would be hard pressed not to love her. Womack’s co-star, Matthew Cammelle in only his second performance in the role, played a suitably dashing Emile De Becque and – as you’d expect from a former Phantom of the Opera, gave a wonderful singing performance particularly with De Becque’s signature number Some Enchanted Evening.
Jacqueline Tate’s Bloody Mary was a stand out of the show for me, particularly her rendition of Happy Talk, which was staged in a sinister way that I have certainly not seen before, as she tries to convince a weak, Malarial Joe Cable to marry her daughter. The relationship between Daniel Koek’s Joe Cable and Elizabeth Chong’s Liat was sweet and convincing making it all the more heartbreaking at the conclusion.
Alex Ferns is also brilliant as lovable rogue Luther Billis, the island’s Mr Fixit and There is Nothin’ Like A Dame is given a bit of a raunchy makeover, making it another high point.
The one word that keeps coming to mind when trying to write this review is ‘superb’ – the set, direction, musical direction (by Jae Alexander), atmosphere you name it were all first class and I would highly recommend this fresh, new take on a sumptuous old favourite.
Please note: The Mayflower Theatre kindly provided two tickets to the show, but the opinions about this fantastic show are entirely my own.