Rodgers & Hammerstein's - 'South Pacific'

Arts Theatre, UNE - May/June 2006

Stage Direction by Michael Gibson
Musical Direction by Chris Garden
Produced by Margaret Kennedy
Choreography by Tracey James 

Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan. Adapted from the Pulitzer Prizewinning novel 'Tales of the Pacific' by James A Michener. By special arrangement with Origin Theatrical Pty Ltd on behalf of R&H Theatricals of New York City. 

SYNOPSIS

On a South Pacific island during World War II, a U.S. Navy nurse, Ensign Nellie Forbush, falls in love with a middle-aged French plantation owner, Emile de Becque. Meanwhile, the restless sailors of the Navy, led by the entrepreneurial seabee Luther Billis, are lamenting on the absence of women or combat to relieve their boredom, when Lieutenant Joe Cable of the U.S. Marine Corps arrives on the island to take part in a dangerous spy mission that might help turn the tide of the war against the Japanese. As only officers can sign out boats, Billis notices this opportunity to be able to get over to the mysterious and valuable island of Bali Ha'i, and convinces Cable to accompany him.

On Bali Ha'i, Bloody Mary, the native souvenir dealer, introduces him to her daughter, Liat, and the two fall in love. The two couples prosper, and proposals of marriage are made; however, Nellie is shocked to discover that Emile has mixed-race children from an earlier relationship, and Cable refuses to marry Liat due to her race, infuriating Mary.

Dejected and with nothing to lose, Emile and Cable agree to go on their dangerous mission, successfully sending reports on enemy action. 'Operation Alligator' gets underway and the previously idle sailors, including the reluctant Luther Billis, are sent into battle.

Unfortunately, Cable is killed during the mission, and Emile narrowly escapes a similar fate to return home to his children and the now-understanding Nellie.

SCENES & MUSICAL NUMBERS

Act 1

Scene 1: On the Beach
'Bloody Mary' - Sailors and Bloody Mary
'Nothing Like a Dame' - Luther Billis and Sailors
'Bali Ha'i' - Bloody Mary

Scene 2: Emile de Becque's Plantation House
'A Cockeyed Optimist' - Nellie Forbush
'Twin Soliloquies' - Emile de Becque and Nellie Forbush
'Some Enchanted Evening' - Emile de Becque
'Dites Moi' - Ngana, Jerome and Emille

Scene 3: 1st Company Street

Scene 4: Captain Brackett's Office

Scene 5: 1st Company Street

Scene 6: Another Part of the Beach
'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair' - Nellie Forbush and Nurses
'Twin Soliloquies and Some Enchanted Evening' (reprise) - Nellie and Emile
'I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy' - Nellie

Scene 7: Captain Brackett's Office

Scene 8: On Bali Ha'i
'Bali Ha'i' (reprise) - Female Chorus

Scene 9: Interior of Blood Mary's Hut
'Younger Than Springtime' - Joe Cable

Scene 10: On Bali Ha'i
'Bali Ha'i' (reprise) - Female chorus

Scene 11: Emile de Becque Plantation House
'I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy' (reprise) - Nellie and Emile
'Cockeyed Optimist' (reprise) - Emile

Act 2

Scene 1: Backstage at the Thanksgiving Concert
'Happy Talk' - Bloody Mary

Scene 2: On Stage at the Thanksgiving Concert
'Honey Bun' - Nellie, Luther Billis and Chorus

Scene 3: Backstage after Thanksgiving Concert
'My Girl Back Home' - Joe and Nellie
'Carefully Taught' - Joe
'This Nearly Was Mine' - Emile

Scene 4: Captain Brackett's Office

Scene 5: Pilot's Briefing

Scene 6: Captain Brackett's Office

Scene 7: Another Part of the Beach
'Some Enchanted Evening' (reprise) - Nellie

Scene 8: Emile's Plantation House
'Dites Moi' - Nellie, Ngana, Jerome and Emile

DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE

As a child growing up in urban Australia one of the highlights of the week was Saturday afternoon at the movies accompanied by all the other kids from our neighbourhood. Looking back to that time, I now realise the absolute nightmare it must have been for the theatre staff with a house full of rowdy kids - cheering the 'white hatted' heroes, booing the 'black stetsoned' villains, rolling jaffas down the aisle, hooting loudly in all the love scenes and generally having a thoroughly enjoyable time. However, as raucous and uncouth as it may have been, this weekly experience did engender within me an absolute love of the movies and by association the medium on which they were often based - the theatre.

I first saw the movie South Pacific with my parents in 1959 (I saw the stage show in 1975 and I finally got to play the role of Luther Billis in 1990). In 1959 I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the production, but to my parents it meant much more. For them it captured the war years - a very vital time in their lives - young men and women away from home, the deprivation and loneliness, the risk of injury (or worse) on a daily basis and the complete uncertainty of the time. For them South Pacific was a story they could relate to and they loved it.

My parents were not the only ones who felt the show had touched a chord. South Pacific ran five years on Broadway (1,925 performances) and the tour of the national company lasted over several years. It played two and a half years in London, after which the company went on a tour that lasted another year and a half. It was also delivered in foreign translations in many other leading European capitals. The sheet music and the long-playing score also sold in record numbers. In addition to all this, South Pacific received most of the coveted awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Critics Award as the season's best musical, seven Antoinette Perry and nine Donaldson Awards.

At its core the play is a love story but into it is entwined a powerful social message - Hammerstein just couldn't help himself - and binding the whole scenario together are some of the best known songs in musical theatre history. Plenty of tunes to hum on the way home here!

As always it has been fun bringing this production to fruition and there are many people to thank. Chris Garden and Terry Million have made the music literally zing, Margaret Kennedy, Nick Monk and their production team released me from any potential headaches in that area. Barbara Colledge kept me on track as Director, Donna Wainohu, Colin Barry, Hanneke Raanhuis, Dorothy Pollard all added their skills and talents and Tracey James saved me from a nervous breakdown trying to choreograph as well as direct.

I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

CAST

Emile de Becque: Neil Horton, Ensign Nellie Forbush: Rebekah Engeler, Luther Billis: Brad Crook, Bloody Mary: Donna Wainohu, Lt Cable: Michael Abbott, Capt Brackett: Jim Harrop, Commdr Harbison: Methuen Morgan, Liat: Hanneke Raanhuis, Ngana: Imogen Dean, Henry: Michael Gibson, Jerome: Jack Grigg, Lt Buzz Adams: Bryce Little, Professor: Matti Rigby, Stewpot: Alan Wilkinson, Yeoman Quale/Radio Operator McCaffrey: Bradley Scott 

Female Chorus: Aline Christenson, Annie Abbott, Bobbi Angelini, Carol Elder, Clare Campbell, Debbie Doherty, Emily Carroll, Emma Hall, Ingrid Rothe, Jill Gordon, Joan Lamont, Kate Jones, Laura Horton, Leanne Abbott, Marie O'Riley, Michelle Hobbs, Peta Bale, Sharyn Holmes, Val Sherwell

Male Chorus: Brian Thomas, Bruce Southcott, Harley Scholz, James Poole, Jinhyuk Lee, Joseph Klotz, Matti Rigby, Mitchell Burey, Nick Monk 

ORCHESTRA

Conductor: Chris Garden,  Violin: Kate Chapman, Marina Reader, Annie Chapman, Viola: Hannah Rowland, Cello: Claire Chapman, Camilla Tafra, Double Bass: Arlene Fletcher, Clarinet: Jane Growns, Lauren Meredith, Tuba: Brian Glover, Flute: Sharon Davidge, Oboe: Matthew Bedford,  Bassoon: Alex Bell, Horn: Alastaire Finco, Bruce Menzies, Trumpet: Tony Jones, Frank Logan, Kieran Chambers, Trombone: Dave Brown, Felix Graser, Sarah Hosgood, Keyboard: Terry Million,  Percussion: Cassie Hausler

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director: Mike Gibson
Musical Director: Chris Garden
Choreographer: Tracey James
Producers: Margaret Kennedy, Nick Monk
Stage Manager: Barbara Colledge, Colin Barry
Director's Assistant: Barbara Colledge
Technical Manager: Nick Monk
Publicity: Denis Wright, Ingrid Rothe
Costumes: Hanneke Raanhuis
Set Design: Donna Wainohu
Set Construction: Colin Barry, Nick Monk
Programme: Denis Wright
Makeup: Carol Elder, Mike Gibson
Front of House: Beryl Hamel, Jane Stening, John Brady, John Hamel
Ticketing: Robyn Slocombe, Margaret Kennedy
Video: Denis Wright 

PRODUCTION CREW 

Cast Call: Diana Helmrich
Orchestral Technician: Luke Polson
Backstage Crew: Britt Barrie, Jess Wilkinson, Kim Scholz, Luke Pavel, Peter Norton, Ros Brady 
Props: Dot Pollard, Lyn McMahon, Ros Brady, Val Sherwell
Lighting/Sound: Lachlan Ashley, Lissa Monk, Nicholas Monk, Nick Monk, Sebastian Monk, Tanya Lawler
Costumes: Aline Christenson, Dot Pollard, Hanneke Raanhuis, Narelle Jackson
Make-up:  Aline Christenson, Carol Elder, Donna Wainohu, Mike Gibson
Tattoos: Donna Wainohu, Jinhyuk Lee
Rehearsal Pianist: Terry Million
Programme: Barbara Colledge, Denis Wright, Neil Horton
Catering: Dorothy Pollard
Photography: Denis Wright, Ingrid Rothe
Treasurer: Mike Gibson
Autumn Festival: Barbara Colledge
Front of House: Anne Cunningham, Beryl Hamel, Isabel Strutt, Jane Stening, John Brady, John Hamel, Louise Kelly, Robyn Slocombe, Ros Brady, Sally Prowse

THANKS TO

12/16 Hunter River Lancers, Armidale Building Supplies, Armidale High School, Armidale Playhouse Inc, Cheryl Cooper, Ducats, Robin Bradley, Rosemerin Florist - Dianne Scott, The Armidale School, UNE staff for assistance at the performance venue, Uralla Military Museum

South Pacific graphic courtesy of Denis Wright