REVIEW: South Pacific at Theatre Royal, Bath, 3/5, by Gerry Parker
THIS show is rated one of the best of the nine written and composed by the team of Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers. Starting in 1943 with Oklahoma and ending in 1959 with The Sound Of Music, they dominated musical theatre during the middle part of the 20th century.
With a book taken from two tales from James A Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories Tales Of The South Pacific, it has strong storylines which match Rodgers' high-class score. The show features classic numbers like I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, Some Enchanted Evening, and This Nearly Was Mine.
Aimi Kuhkle, as US Navy nurse Nellie Forbush who is away from her small-town home for the first time, and Geoff White, as ultra-sophisticated French planter Emile de Becque with whom Nellie falls in love, have a selection of the best songs in musical comedy. They were in no mood to let such vocal gems slip through their fingers. Nor was Lorraine Matson's splendidly-unwholesome Bloody Mary with Bali Ha'i and Happy Talk at her disposal. Nick Feirabend's Sergeant Bilko- like Luther Billis led the men through the rousing There Is Nothing Like A Dame.
But on opening night there was a tentativeness about Scott Rogers' production, as if players were frightened they might make a mistake. This led to some numbers, including linking music, being presented at too pedestrian a pace.
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Once the company relax and become as confident as the delightful Elleze Francis and Ammar Hassan, who share with Nicole and Simon Cheung the roles of Emile's children, audiences should see the production complete with the enthusiasm and drive it needs to fully show off this group's talents.