SOUTH PACIFIC by Erewash Music Society.
The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
I was so looking forward to this show so maybe pitching my expectations so high led me to slightly deflated outcome. Now that sounds like I didn't enjoy it at all but that's far from the truth because I did. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote some great songs, some of them in this production, and there were some really good character roles.
I have been slightly critical but only because I know what a professional lot the EMUS are.
But let's start positive with the things I loved. I loved the backdrop of the sea and the island of Bali Hai and the way it looked so real with the gentle ripples of the ocean and the smoke coming from the mountain. This really set the scene and the mood of the islands and the serene water.
I was really impressed with the props and the costumes and the suitability of both for the period of the musical, as well as a simple but effective "stage" for the "Follies review". A great idea to just move the backdrop of the onstage "stage" from the back to the front so that it showed what was happening behind the "stage" without revolving the whole thing.
The choreography of the routines were brilliant,especially in the chorus numbers of "There Is Nothing Like A Dame" and "Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair". Carol Lawson should be proud of herself with the hard work that has obviously gone into it.
And so to the cast. I thought that Stephanie Ure, as Nellie was brilliant. She really lived that part and she has a gorgeous voice that helped carry me through the 145 minutes, excluding the break, show.
I can never really fault Zak Charlesworth, who played Lieutenant Cable, because his voice just goes from strength to strength, and he has a certain naturalness to his acting which just makes his roles seem believable. Only once have I seen him look nervous on stage, but that was not in a musical.
I absolutely adored Bloody Mary, and I'm not insinuating that I had to hit the drink here, NO, I mean the Tongan character Bloody Mary,played with great gusto by Fiona Wright, who tried to matchmake with Cable and Mary's daughter, Liat. Zak is a lucky man to have to lock lips with Alysha Gomes, as Liat, every night this week!
Keith Butcher and Adrian Perkins were great in character as Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison respectively.
Steve Thornhill played the French contingency in South Pacific, and the object of Nellie's affections Emile De Becque. Not the strongest of voices in the cast and I didn't feel the relationship between De Becque and Nellie was as natural as it maybe should have been. I know that everyone gives their all on stage and it may have been nerves but I just didn't feel as comfortable as maybe I should have felt with one of the principal roles. Give Steve his due though, he really did shine just before the interval when Nellie deserted him on his terrace, and you did feel the passion in his voice and actions.
It's very easy for me to say this, sat in the audience, but I really do appreciate the hours of blood, sweat and tears that actors, and let's face it, they do this for the love of it, invest in the roles they play. I'm hoping that any nerves settle and the "comfortableness" sets in, which I have every confidence it will. Hey! It's opening night I can forgive nerves. I would not have the guts to stand on a stage and sing, dance and deliver lines, so I have every admiration for anyone who does this!
Some great work from the male and female choruses and from the band, again under the musical direction of Dave Dallard.
On the whole this tale of the South Pacific island during World War II and the separate love lives is enjoyable with some wonderful comic sections, great choreography, memorable tunes ("Bali Hai", "Some Enchanted Evening", "Honey Bun", "Happy Talk", "Younger Than Springtime", "A Cock Eyed Optimist"), a cast which included the whole age range from Emile's two kids up to some of the more mature actors. There is something for everyone here.
Get your tickets fast as Monday night was sold out from what I could see, and rightly so. It is so good to see amateur theatre being supported so ferociously.
"South Pacific" is on at The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 28 March 2015