Stars explained: * A production of no real merit
with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not
enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real
life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A
good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely
achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a
great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major
flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic
which lifts theatre to another plane.
Manor Musical Theatre Company
Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
It was icy cold with snow and rain falling as the opening night audience arrived for this classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, but they went home feeling a warm glow after a hugely entertaining show.
The heat of the South Pacific World War II story is reflected in some red hot scenes featuring a fine cast whose enthusiasm is impressive as they belt out the big numbers – and there are plenty of them.
This long-established company -their first show was way back in 1953 – is fortunate to have such fine soloists and a powerful chorus, while for this musical a new production team is in place and clearly making an impact.
Premiered on Broadway in 1949 where it ran for 1,921 performances, South Pacific became a hit film in 1958, and it loses none of its magic on the amateur stage.
From the moment leading man Barry Styles sings the heart-warming Some Enchanted Evening, you know you are in for a treat, and the skill in which the somewhat tight stage at the town hall becomes a war zone is a considerable achievement.
Styles is superb as the wealthy French planter, Emile de Becque, who, because of a serious personal problem in his native land, has settled on a South Pacific island, and when he falls in love with US Navy nurse, Ensign Nelly Forbush another snag arises.
Beth Hooper sparkles in the role of the attractive young nurse, at first charmed by de Becque then backing off after discovering that he has three children by his late wife, a Polynesian woman. Nelly’s upbringing in Little Rock, Arkansas reveals Deep South prejudices which threaten to scupper the budding romance, but the Frenchman becomes a heroic figure after helping the Americans in a crucial engagement with the Japanese.
Despite the background of war, the story is bursting with humour as well as good music, and there is a memorable performance from Susan Bushby as Bloody Mary, the local woman who enjoys doing business with the troops and fancies a match between her daughter, Liat (Lucy Burbridge), and the brave officer, Lt Joe Cable (Andy Hooper)).
There is fine comedy from Paul Wozniak, playing the crafty Luther Billis, while Lynne Ridge and Richard Parry are convincing as the senior officers Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison
Rip-roaring songs like Bloody Mary, There is Nothing Like a Dame and I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair provide an entertaining contrast with the romantic numbers I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy, Happy Talk and Younger Than Springtime.
I had a slight doubt concerning the orchestra during the noisy overture, but they settled down to make a significant contribution to what is, as the song says . . . some enchanted evening.
South Pacific is produced and directed by Pam and James Garrington, with Peter Bushby’s musical direction and Janine Henderson’s choreography. To 29-04-7