South Pacific, the classic musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opens at Church Hill Theatre on June 6 for a three-week run. Sylvia Maloney directs this Church Hill Theatre revival, which opens on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Based on James Michener’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Tales of the South Pacific, the musical premiered in 1949, won ten Tony Awards and enjoyed the second longest all time run on Broadway. The original cast featured Mary Martin as the heroine, nurse Nellie Forbush, and opera star Ezio Pinza as the French planter, Emile de Becque.
As members of the greatest generation grow fewer, South Pacific reminds us that in addition to being bravely patriotic, our parents and grandparents who served in World War II were vibrant, lusty, caring, sometimes troubled, and very far from home. Church Hill Theatre’s production introduces us to the sailors, nurses, expats and islanders who faced off against the Japanese enemy in the Pacific.
The songs, by now deeply engrained in American culture, include the romantic “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Younger than Springtime,” the spirited “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” the haunting “Bali Ha’i,” and the reflective “This Nearly Was Mine.” Every song enriches the characters and advances the story in an emotionally satisfying manner.
Maloney’s talented cast includes includes Liz Clarke as Nellie Forbush, Michael Whitehill as Emile de Becque, Jane Copple as Bloody Mary, Mark Wiening as Lt. Cable, Abby Wroten as Liat, Brian Whitaker as Luther Billis, Jeff Daly as Commander Harbison and Doug Kaufmann as Captain Brackett. The nurses are played by Jean Leverage, Becca Van Aken, Laura Kaufmann, Abbey Gilbert, Kelly Ostazeski, Sam McCreary, Kylie Sommer, Emily Wittman, Jennifer Johnson, Cara Wood and Becca Becraft. Navy officers and Seabees are played by Tim Daly, Matt Folker, Patrick Lindsay, Will Covington, Bryan Betley, Brandon Walls, Ira Nelson and Ned Leverage. Islanders are played by Lindsey Jones, Cullen Williams, Stacey Faust and Natalie Grant.
Curtis Hammer is the musical director and Cavin Moore is the choreographer. Members of the orchestra include Tom Anthony, Jeff Davis, Ron Demby, Matt Davis, Frank Gerber, Jim Pileggi, William Mettle, and Alphonso Ramirez.
The backstage team is headed by stage manager Stacey Faust and her assistants Laura Kaufmann and Jean Leverage. Set design and construction is by Michael Whitehill, with painting by Liz Clarke, Jim Johnson and Pat Patterson and art design by Brian Draper. Tina Johnson, Erma Johnson and Debra Ebersole provided the costumes. Nic Carter and Doug Kaufmann designed and operate the lights and Steve Payne is responsible for sound design and operation. Properties are handled by Karen Johnson-Amritt and Stacey Faust, with hair and makeup by Bernadette Alderson, publicity by Sheila Austrian, photography by Pat Patterson, and program design by John Beck, Pat Patterson, and Sylvia Maloney.
South Pacific runs from June 6 to 22 with shows at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adult, $17 for members and $10 for students. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling the box office at 410-758-1331 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org
Photo 1: Jerome (Cullen Williams, left) and Ngana (Lindsey Jones, right) entertain Marie (Stacey Faust, center) and Emile (Michael Whitehill, far right) by singing Dites Moi in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at Church Hill Theatre in June.
Photo 2: Professor (Bryan Betley), Nellie (Liz Clarke), Billis (Brian Whitaker) and Stewpot (Patrick Lindsay) all admire the wonderful pleats in Nellie’s shorts in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at Church Hill Theatre in June.
Photo 3: The Seabees, row three: Quale (Will Covington), McCaffrey (Ira Nelson), West (Tim Daly), row two: Professor (Bryan Betley), Hassinger (Ned Leverage) and Stewpot (Patrick Lindsay) are in awe of the Boar’s Tooth Bracelet that Billis (Brian Whitaker) holds as Bloody Mary, left (Jane Copple) and Bloody Mary’s Assistant, right (Natalie Grant) look on in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at Church Hill Theatre in June.