by Terrance Mc Arthur
If you’re looking for Some Enchanted Evening, go to the Selma Arts Center for South Pacific, that wonderful old Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Nellie Forbush (Samantha Gagliardi), a Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, on a Pacific island during World War II, falls for Emil DeBecque (Limuel Forgey III), but his past stands between her and happiness. Lt. Joseph Cable (Tim Smith), a high-society Easterner, discovers love with Lait (Julia Tsutsui), daughter of Bloody Mary (Cathy Stone Hughes), the crass island souvenir-seller, but he’s… a high-society Easterner. Luther Billis (Daniel J. Peters), a con man with more angles than a dodecahedron (Trust me, I used to be a math teacher: that’s a lot of angles.), falls for every trick in the book.
The show is filled with great old songs: “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Hai,” “There Is Nothing Like a Dame,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “A Cockeyed Optimist,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “Dites-Moi,” “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” “Happy Talk,” “Honey Bun,” and “Bloody Mary.” No other musical has so many classic tunes that have lasted for decades. Now, can all those old songs sound fresh and clear? They can, with one of the strongest casts of singers I’ve ever heard.
Gagliardi is slender, blessed with blazing masses of hair and a clarion voice. You seldom hear that much sound out of a body that thin. Forgey may not look like a dashing, romantic, middle-aged, plantation owner, but he sounds like a leading man who could capture a young woman’s heart. Smith is tall and melodic, and Tsutsui has little to do but look beautiful and be adored, which she does with no trouble at all. Hughes gets to be crude and rude, then explodes into a stage-filling “Bali Hai” that takes you away to a tropical paradise without charging airfare. Peters, as the American counterpart to Bloody Mary, wheedles, schemes, and shows an appealing lack of shame for his actions.
It’s a great show, and the trip to Selma is a good excuse for dinner at Sal’s or Rosa Linda’s.
The Selma Arts Center is at 1935 High Street, and the play runs through April 12. tickets are available at the box office or at www.tickettomato.com.
You can find more theatre reviews and entertainment articles in KRL’s arts & entertainment section.