The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp BerkshiresBerkshire Review Review
South Pacific

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made. . . 

--from "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"

The South Pacific guys
Gail Nelson as Bloody Mary and Gordon Stanley as Capt. Brackett
Photo: Timothy Raab)
Rodger & Hammerstein's South Pacific is one of those rare musicals that justifies being tagged a " classic." Its songs and plot mesh like the threads in an intricate tapestry. It is not one genre but many:
  • A double romance, one doomed one ending happily
  • An adventure story intensified by its lush Pacific island setting and the shadow of war.
  • Comedy that fuses ballads with high camp production numbers
  • Social commentary triggered by history bringing people from different cultures together
Giving this musical tapestry its warm, fade-resistant color are, of course, Richard Rodgers' gorgeous melodies and Oscar Hammerstein's witty, character-building lyrics. Not just a few show-stoppers, but a non-stop parade of songs which epitomize adjective "hummable."

With a screen version (not great!) and countless regional productions over the years (many with less than compelling casts), some people are likely to approach yet another revival skeptically, wondering if the story and even the songs won't be too familiar. Just reading the song list in the programs will , bring the melodies popping into your ears. But not to worry. Julianne Boyd has not only picked a perfect time -- Richard Rodgers' Centennial -- to bring her version of the show to Barrington Stage, but she has done a super job in staging it. Even without the magic of meeting memorable musical characters for the first time and hearing them sing songs you've never heard before but will remember forever, this South Pacific is thoroughly entertaining and still moving. The two-man piano band (Douglas Coates and Bryan Wade may seem meager for a show with a twenty-two member cast (the largest ever for BSC) but they do full justice to the score.

Christianne Tisdale as Nellie Forbush and Peter Samuel as Emile deBeque
Christianne Tisdale as Nellie Forbush and Peter Samuel as Emile deBeque (Photo: Timothy Raab)
Of course, South Pacific can't be an "enchanted evening" without a Nellie Forbush who brings the required pep, charm and voice to the role of the nurse who joined the Navy to learn about a world outside Little Rock, Arkansas. Fortunately, Christianne Tisdale has all these qualities. And yes, you can expect to see her literally "wash that man right out of her hair", even if not out of her heart.

Ms. Boyd has also provided Nellie with a leading man (Peter Samuel) handsome enough to turn any girl's head, and a rich bass to make "Some Enchanted Evening" and "This Nearly Was Mine" soar. The baggage the middle-aged Frenchman brings to his love-at-first-sight relationship with the young American girl includes the murder of a man who tyrannized his native French village and being a widower with two Polynesian children. For a girl raised in the color-conscious South, this is not only a lot of baggage to take in but calls for powerful emotional sparks between that first enchanted meeting and the reunion after Emile is nearly killed. That magnetism isn't always quite there, but Tisdale and Samuel do make beautiful music both together and apart.

Elaine Marcus as Liat and Ayal Miodovnik as Lt. Joe Cable
Elaine Marcus as Liat and Ayal Miodovnik as Lt. Joe Cable
Photo: Timothy Raab)
As important as the central romance -- and enhancing the show's all-ages (I'd say 9 and up) appeal -- are the subplots revolving around the bored Seabees and sailors, the eager for battle Captain Brackett (George Stanley) and the college-educated Lt. Cable (Ayal Miodovnik) who falls in love with Liat (Elaine Marcos), the teen-aged daughter of a shrewd Polynesian entrepreneur, Bloody Mary (Gail Nelson). Ayal Miodovnik's rendition of "Younger Than Springtime" and "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" couldn't be better. And Boyd's introduction of masks to the scene when Cable first meets Liat is stunningly effective.

Gail Nelson, who is already known to BSC audiences as Lady Day, is an inspired Bloody Mary. Her "Bali Ha'i "and "Happy Talk" are tinged with a jazzy feel you won't soon forget. Equally outstanding in both the acting and singing department is Christopher Vettel as the scrappy Seabee Luther Billis. He turns low comedy into high art during the hilariously funny "Honey Bun" production number.

The ensemble overall performs with verve, including Brittney Arneson-White and Arielle Watlington, two local schoolgirls, who portray the de Beque children, opening and closing the show with that charming French lesson, "Dites-Moi". It's also refreshing to see some real-life proportioned rather than rail-thin dancers. Speaking of dancing, Tony Parise's choreography is fun and bouncy, as are Lora LaVon's costumes. Miguel Romero supplies everything needed to shift from DeBeque's lush plantation patio, to the front and back stage of the "Thanksgiving Follies" and the strategy planning sessions for and during Cable and deBeque's war mission.

Being something of "A Cockeyed Optimist" myself I'm convinced that somewhere there's another Rodgers and Hammerstein who'll come forward with a new "classic." Until then you could do a lot worse than to take a trip back in time with Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
Based on Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener
Director: Julianne Boyd
Choreographer: Tony Parise Choreographer:
Cast (in order of appearance --* indicating actor's equity member): Ngana/ Brittney Arneson-White; Marthe/ Arielle Watlington; Henri/ *Enrique Cruz DeJesus; Emile de Beque/ *Peter Samuel;Nellie Forbush/ *Christianne Tisdale; Bloody Mary/ *Gail Nelson, Stew Pot /*Adam Mastrelli, The Professor/ *Brian Golub, Seabees and Sailors: *Michael Bunce *Enrique Cruz deJesus, Ruben Flores, Jack McDowell, Samuel Pettit, *Matt Stokes, Luther Billis, *Christopher Vettel; Nurses: Amy Justman, Teri Watts, Lucy Roth Sorensen; Lt. Joe Cable/ *Ayal Miodnovik; Capt. George Brackett/ *Gordon Stanley; Cmdr. Bill Harbison/ *Michael Bunce;Liat/ *Elaine Marcos; Mendoza Ruben Flores McCaffrey/ *Enrique Cruz de Jesus;Lt. Buzz Adams/ Samuel Pettit; Shore Patrolman/ *Matt Stokes
Scenic Design: Miguel Romero
Costumes: Lora LaVon
Lights: Marcus Doshi
Sound: Jim van Bergen
. Conductor & Musical Director: Douglas Coates
Assistant Musical Director & Pianist: Bryan Wade
Barrington Stage at Consolati Performing Arts Center, Sheffield, MA (413/528-8888 Website
Performances: June 19, 2002 through July 13, 2002
. Tuesday through Sunday
Running time: Approximately 2 hours 25 minutes plus one fifteen minutes intermission.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommerbased on June 23rd performance
Musical Numbers
Act One

  • Dites-Moi/ Ngana and Marthe
  • A Cockeyed Optimist/ Nellie
  • Twin Soliloquies/ Nellie and Emile
  • Some Enchanted Evening/ Emile
  • Bloody Mary/ Sailors, Seabees and Marines
  • There Is Nothing Like a Dame/ Billis, Sailors, Seabees and Marines
  • Bali Ha'i/ Bloody Mary
  • I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Out-a My Hair/ Nellie and Nurses
  • A Wonderful Guy/ Nellie and Nurses
  • Reprise: Bali Ha'i/ Bloody Mary, Liat
  • Younger Than Springtime/Cable
  • Act I Finale: Cockeyed Optimist, Some Enchanted Evening/ Emile and Nellie
Act Two

  • Thanksgiving Follies/ Nellie, Nurses and G.I.'s
  • Happy Talk/Bloody Mary
  • Reprise: Younger Than
  • Springtime/ Cable
  • Honey Bun/ Nellie, Billis, Nurses and G.I.'s
  • You've Got to Be
  • Carefully Taught/ Cable
  • This Nearly Was Mine/ Emile
  • Reprise: Some Enchanted Evening /Nellie
  • Dites-Moi/ Ngana, Marthe and Nellie
deb and harry's wonderful things -  crafts .  yarns

Berkshire Hikes Book Cover

metaphors dictionary cover
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

Berkshire Main Page. . .  Berkshire Theater Index and Schedules. . .  Berkshire News Page. . .  Berkshire Review Archive. . .  A-Z Index All CurtainUp Reviews

©Copyright 2002, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from