By George Spelvin
Fairmont State’s School of Fine Arts and Town & Gown Theatre presented a solid performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC at Prickett’s Fort State Park Amphitheatre. The rather large cast included FSU faculty, Town & Gown old hands and newcomers.
SOUTH PACIFIC is based on James A. Michner’s TALES FROM THE SOUTH PACIFIC, and in musical format, addresses issues of war, love, prejudice and bravery. Director, Jeffrey H. Ingman has streamlined the story and guides the cast through a sensitive and moving telling of this tale.
Town & Gown veterans, John O’Connor as Emile De Becque, Christie Brooks as Bloody Mary, Shawn Dunn as Capt. George Brackett, James Matthews as Commander William Harbison and Troy Snyder as Luther Billis performed main and featured characters as one would expect from experienced actors. Also cast were newcomers Leigh Anne Bolyard as Ensign Nellie Forbush and Zach Rowe as Lt. Joseph Cable.
Ms. Bolyard has appeared in past Town & Gown productions, but not with such an important role. She proved herself capable of the challenge with a beautiful singing voice and believable acting as her character faces her prejudices, war duties and love for the French expatriate Emile de Becque. Zach Rowe, in his first Town & Gown production, is equally believable as Lt. Cable who falls in love with Liat, a young native girl played by Madison Whiting, and brings a strong vocal performance as well.
FSU faculty member, Troy Snyder as the intensely entrepreneurial Luther Billis is memorable leading the cast in “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and as Honey Bun in the song by the same name during the Thanksgiving Day performance staged by the nurses and sailors. Speaking of the nurses and sailors, they provide solid back up to the featured performers in songs like “Bloody Mary” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.” Also memorable are performances of SOUTH PACIFIC classic songs like “Some Enchanted Evening” sung by John O’Connor and “Bali Ha’i” sung by Christie Brooks.
The bare Prickett’s Fort Amphitheatre is transformed into a tropical island in the Pacific by Set, Sound and Lighting Designer Greg Griffin. John Morrison as Musical Director conducts the cast and live orchestra.
This moving production is dedicated to the U.S. Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces. Equally moving, if not more so, as the curtain call is halted and the men and women, current and past, who have served our country are asked to stand, be recognized and receive the well deserved appreciation from the cast and other audience members.
There are additional performances of SOUTH PACIFIC on July 12, 13 and 14. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (304) 367-4240.