South Pacific at Alexandra Theatre - Review

South Pacific at Alexandra Theatre - Review


Posted 2022-09-28 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 27 Sep 2022 - Sat 01 Oct 2022

The age-old romantic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical gets a revival with this new theatre tour. But set during World War Two, will it still feel relevant?

South Pacific gets a new outing in this production from Chichester Festival Theatre - an esteemed company that once had Laurence Olivier as an artistic director and recently brought us Kipps and Crazy For You.

Stopping off at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre early in the UK tour, it stays until Saturday, October 1. There's a big cast of over 30 people and even bigger glamorous sets that includes a revolving stage.

There's a full orchestra doing justice to songs from Some Enchanted Evening to I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, Happy Talk, and Bali Ha'i. The music sounds so divine it is almost dream-like at many points in this impressive show.

For those not familiar with it, the classic show is a love story set during the Second World War on a hot South Pacific Island, where American forces are stationed.

It is the idyllic backdrop for steamy romances as nurse Ensign Nellie Forbush is attracted to French plantation owner Emile de Becque, who lives on the island. There's another romance too between a young lieutenant and a local girl that plays out amid the backdrop of spy missions and life in the Navy.

It's a youthful, attractive and energetic cast led by actors Gina Beck and well-cast Julian Ovenden, who many will recognise from shows including Bridgerton and has a surprisingly attractive voice as a tenor. He has the audience eating out of his hand after an early rendition of Some Enchanted Evening and never lets them go.

He gets to display the extent of his vocal range in fine style during Act Two's showstopper of This Nearly Was Mine.

Chichester Festival Theatre's Artistic Director Daniel Evans directs. He's got form for breathing new life into well known shows like Me and My Girl and Fiddler on the Roof and does the same here.

He's added more impact with a focus on Nellie's attitude to interracial marriage and the effect of the Navy on locals like Joanna Ampil's scene-stealing Blood Mary and her graceful dancing daughter Liat. It makes it feel fresh and relevant to today's audiences with the words to song You've Got To Be Carefully Taught being extremely meaningful.

But the greatest addition is the comedy. There's always a zest of fun amongst the heady romance. Douggie McMeekin heads up the comic interludes as cheeky naval stooge Luther Billis. He's into everything and is a joy to watch as he gets caught up in his latest antic.

Beck is a strong Nellie and has a stunning operatic voice along with playfulness that got ladies in the row in front of me swaying along to I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.

It's a clever move to make the audience quickly feel a fondness for her as it makes her later attitude all the more shocking.

But this is a good old fashioned musical so you know it will, mostly, turn out all right in the end. It's heartwarming, dizzingly romantic and theatre at its best.

You'll feel wrapped up in a huge warm hug of romance during a guaranteed enchanted evening. You'll regret missing this enthralling show so catch it while you can.

RATING: & #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;

#theatre -reviews
!date 27/09/2022 -- 01/10/2022
70760 - 2023-01-26 01:49:10


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