HOPKINS COUNTY, KY—Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s, “South Pacific,” has been credited by critics as one of the best musical productions of the 20th Century.
Though there have been several reproductions of the story via mediums such as Broadway and film since 1949, The Glema Mahr Center for the Arts kicked the weekend off right with their own version of the over a half-a-century-old, but immensely relevant piece.
After months of preparation, the 35-member cast and 22-piece orchestra came to together for a wonderful performance last night beginning at 7pm in the Glema Mahr Auditorium. With about 250 people in attendance, the actors, actresses, technicians, and musicians had their work cut out for them, but did a great job of drawing yours truly into the multi-faceted storyline. Though there were a few minor mishaps with dialogue delivery and on-stage choreography, the moments of clarity and well-played emotion overtook the memory of the very few mistakes.
There were several standout performances of the night, which included Melanie Boggess’ Glema Center debut performance of lead-lady, Nelly Forbush; Justin Sedlak’s role as Forbush’s French admirer and strong-willed, but caring figurehead of freedom, Emile de Becque; and perhaps the most stirring and humorous performances of the night came from both Alice Chaney’s performance of Bloody Mary and Steve Hudgins’ portrayal of the goofy, but good-hearted Seaman, Luther Billis.
In addition, it should be noted that the on-stage chemistry between Forbush and Becque, as well as the tenderness between the younger standout performers, Mark Seaborn and Andrea Anzalone (Lt. Joseph Cable and his new love, Liat, respectively), developed very well over the course of the night, making the more racially charged and prejudice-based problems between the “lovers” that much more painstaking toward the end.
The performances of the servicemen and nurses were exceptional as well. With humorous interjections from the seaman and nurses alike, the “action behind the action” was just as fun to watch as the actors on center-stage. Plus, the all original choreography (with the exception of “Happy Talk”) and singing from the nurses and servicemen was excellent.
With the omission of some minor flaws here and there, the overall performance and combined efforts of the actors, actresses, technicians, and musicians was very entertaining, moving, and thought-provoking. Regardless of the fact that the original is now over 60 years old and based around a military era long since over, the humanitarian issues, which are the real points of the musical, remain very pertinent today. In fact, yours truly would like to note something about the audience last night: the younger generation was missing. Though it was Friday night, it was still disappointing not to see more faces under 40 years-old in attendance.
However, there are two more performances of South Pacific this weekend, including a show tonight, July 17th, which will begin at 7pm, and another tomorrow, July 18th, which will begin at 2pm. Tickets for the shows can be bought onsite at the Glema Center or can be reserved by phone at (270) 821-ARTS. In addition, you may visit the Glema Center online at www.glemacenter.org or via www.facebook.com.
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