South Pacific

Date 31st October 2014
Society Urmston Musical Theatre
Venue Urmston Leisure Centre
Type of Production Musical
Director Sally Beaman
Musical Director Ed Nurse
Choreographer Sally Wild

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Author: Kevin Proctor

If you weren’t familiar with this show, it wouldn’t take you long to grasp that it’s been created by the American Musical Theatre marvels; Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein. This was the first of their musicals to use the formula which set the way for so many more classic R&H shows, ultimately hurtling them into the resounding success they later became (and still are!), the formula being quite simple; ‘man with children falls in love with a headstrong woman’ – it became a trend for the duo to find such stories (true or fiction) which fit this ingredient then all that was needed was for the miraculous twosome to infect the tale with their magic of music and song. When finding their next book to create a Musical out of, it seems it was a popular advantage to R&H if the book were set somewhere exotic or out of the ordinary from other musicals of their time. This (some would say) same story / formula has been retold by R&H in Siam (‘The King & I’), though the show in question is set during the Second World War – no, we’re not in the Austrian mountains (‘The Sound of Music’) – we’re on an island in the …‘South Pacific’!
 
Over the last twenty years, amateur theatre has leaped into an entirely new league with productions being presented within communities increasingly becoming more of a professional standard.
I fully appreciate that each society has different rules and policies within their constitutions when it comes to auditions, but I’d strongly advise any society to readdress these points, particularly when such rules drastically threaten the standard of the productions you present.

Sarah Kirk took the role of leading lady and certainly demonstrated her experience in this craft, Sarah delivered a worthy interpretation of Nellie Forbush who goes against her own advice, not quite washing the man right outta her hair, to fall for a French man with a past full of secrets.
The shows highlight, for me, was ‘Honey Bun’ which didn’t fail to have my feet tapping along to the melody which stayed firmly in my head for several days after, thanks for that!

The central love story is echoed by another whose tale ends with quite an unfortunate fate, the Lun Tha and Tuptim / Leisel and Rolf prototypes are Lieutenant Cable played nicely by Rob Goodwin-Davey with Megan Collier as the  native Island girl, Liat who is pimped out by her Bloody Mary mother, Kay Wood. 

Emile De Becque was delivered by Arthur Hulse, I felt that the nature of this character wasn’t suited to Arthur as his relationships with the other players were not believable. Articulation was the biggest issue here as I struggled to understand the majority of what he was talking or singing about, resulting in me missing so much of the show.   
John Walker returned to the Urmston stage, this time in the role of Captain Brackett. John certainly lived up to his reputation as the man renowned for fluffing his lines and did send chuckles throughout the audience on a number of occasions for simply not knowing what he was supposed to be saying or doing – not really the right feel for this show or this character.

The chorus needed to up their energy levels several notches by performing and animating their faces more, just because you’re at the back doesn’t mean we can’t see you!! Certain members of the chorus looked half asleep for the majority while others were working hard to inject life and pizazz into the performance, sadly though – it’s always the ones who try to hide or who don’t smile who grab the audience’s attention for looking out of place.

The strongest asset in this show was the sound which came from the orchestra, under the direction of Ed Nurse who added something wonderful to this production  (…not to be mistaken as including another of R&H’s songs into this score).
The only point, and rather a big one, would have been for the orchestra to accompany the scene changes, some of which took quite a while to happen and the time wouldn’t have felt half as long if the gaps were filled with some set change music which would have helped the production to flow a little better.

Another asset was the attractive set designed and constructed by Alan Pickwick and his team, a true asset to the society! The trucks worked nicely and were finished / dressed very effectively, congratulations.