It was a time when men were still chasing after dames and women were still flirting with the fellas, now Rodgers and Hammerstein’s long-running hit revival that earned seven Tony Awards (in 2008) has finally found its way to our own little city of Denver.
South Pacific places young Americans Nellie Forbush (Carmen Cusack) and Lt. Joseph Cable (Anderson Davis) in a scary and exhilarating foreign environment, as only war could do before jet travel was common. The South Pacific ensnares them in urgent cross-cultural love affairs; Nellie with the Frenchman Emile (David Pittsinger), Joe with a native girl, Liat (Sumie Maeda), that provoke their prejudices.
Although it is now a classic, the production faced much criticism and controversy for its racial prejudice. The duo even considered removing one of the more directly prejudice songs, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” but ultimately the song remained.
Cusack is perfect for the role of the U.S. Navy nurse, Nellie, who falls in love with a French plantation owner, played by Pittsinger. She captures her girlish and naive Arkansas charm but also brings a believable vulnerability to the character as she struggles with the racist ideas she learned growing-up.
Pittsinger and Davis are excellent choices for their roles of the French plantation owner and the U.S. Marine Lieutenant. Pittsinger’s powerful baritone voice fills the theater during “Some Enchanted Evening” and “This Nearly Was Mine,” while Davis’ smooth tenor is perfectly tuned for the song “Younger Than Springtime.”
Settle as Bloody Mary, a Tonkinese seller looking to make a buck off the Americans, brings a rough but likable quality to the role.
Rounding out the major players is Matthew Saldivar, who plays the wise-guy sailor Luther Billis. He has a swagger straight out of Jersey, plays the perfect wingman dead set on helping his fellow Seabees hook up with dames and very capably handles the comic relief.
Noteworthy musical performances include, “There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame” during the first act and “Honey Bun” early in the second act.
Catch the Lincoln Center Theater production of South Pacific now through August 1, 2010.
Click here to learn more about South Pacific.
To find out more about the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, click here.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
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Denver, CO 80204