Epic War Romance South Pacific Sparkles on Stage

Joanna Ampil as Bloody Mary in South Pacific Musical
Joanna Ampil as Bloody Mary is surrounded by troops. Photo by Johan Persson

Who doesn’t enjoy a good old tale of romance and recriminations? South Pacific was first performed on Broadway in 1949 and has aged well.

Until Saturday, October 29th, the show is running at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre and it’s a fabulous watch with excellent acting, wonderful music and a bright and cheery set.

Set during World War II, South Pacific is a sweeping romantic story of two couples, threatened by the realities of war.

American nurse Ensign Nellie Forbush stationed on a South Pacific island falls in love with a middle-aged expat French plantation owner Emile de Becque, but struggles to accept his mixed race children.

A secondary romance between US marine Lt Joseph Cable and young Tonkinese woman Bloody Mary explores his fears of the social consequences of potentially marrying his Asian sweetheart.

The sensitive subject of racial prejudice is explored with aplomb by the musical written by famous duet Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

Actor Julian Ovenden of Bridgerton fame is a class act as Emile de Becque and Gina Beck plays a fine Nellie Forbush. Both act with passion and have strong singing voices.

Gina Beck 'Ensign Nellie Forbush' in South Pacific Musical
Gina Beck ‘Ensign Nellie Forbush’ and Company. Photo by Johan Persson

Rob Houchen and Joanna Ampil gel well together as Cable and Bloody Mary and are joined by Crown actor Douggie McMeekin as comic petty officer Luther Billis and Sera Maehara as Bloody Mary’s mother.

Powerful song “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught’’ brings the racial injustice message to life and lighter songs including “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’’ and “Some Enchanted Evening’’ are lapped up by the appreciative audience.

Considering its age, the production could become a little dated, but the Edinburgh cast ensured the story flowed well and modern bright scenery and costumes meant it had a fresh and lively feel to it.

The smaller roles of Emile’s children Jerome and Ngana played delightfully by Junior Thompson-Wunna and Lilou Domagala are a welcome addition to the production and the children clearly revelled being on stage.

This blast from the past show’s solid story is wearing well and the Edinburgh production was a real tribute to some fine writing and music.

This enchanting musical moves to Leeds on 1st November and then to venues across the UK and Ireland. For more information, check out the show’s website: https://southpacificshow.com.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.

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