Roger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific in New Haven is a Hit. I took my teenagers to see the production Thursday, March 8th, and everyone enjoyed it immensely. The NETworks production is based on the Lincoln Center Theater Production which enjoyed great success and word of mouth. Curtis Read said it was one of the best shows he has ever seen, and I can say the same for the production running tonight and tomorrow afternoon at the Shubert in New Haven.
I saw the movie when I was young, and remembered very little. I was surprised at how many very famous Broadway musical numbers were all in this one show: Some Enchanted Evening, Bloody Mary, There’s nothing like a dame, Bali Hai, I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair. There were some songs I didn’t know, but which were excellent: Cockeyed Optimist, A wonderful guy, You’ve got to be carefully taught, My Girl back home and Younger than springtime.
I returned Friday, and watched the show again, and to re-enjoy the gestalt, and especially the choeography and dancing. The Choreographer, Trude Rittmann, passed away in 2005, but she is famous for choreographing many shows. What sparkled, was the way she got fabulous dancers to look a little amateurish, like seabees and nurses in World War II, while they danced away each number, frequently with acrobatics, with a continuous run of sight gags.
Jennie Sophia playing Nellie Forbush almost steals the show, or my heart, but the cast is so strong, she can’t. Marcelo Guzzo played Emile with style, and a heavy French accent. He was almost topped by Royce McIntosh, who played the part Friday, and sounded like a angel on the high notes. There was not a weak link in the fence. Cathy Foy-Mahi commanded as Bloody Mary, and Tripp Hampton wins your respect as the brave lieutenant who can sing his heart out.
The show filled me with joy, the whole cast and crew are to be commended. I proudly informed my teenage children, that my mother, their Grandmother Libby, lied about her age to get into the Red Cross during World War II, and after a long day of pouring coffee for sailors in Hawaii, she sang and danced in a musical in the evening to entertain the sailors. She played the floozy in a comedy, which my father saw as a young naval officer, and he was smitten. Well Jennie, I now now something of what happened to my old man.