The Delaware Theatre Company’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC, the passionate wartime musical that’s been entertaining audiences for over 60 years, marks a new and exciting turn for the professional theater by the waterfront. If you’ve ever thought of DTC as Wilmington’s Broadway, this large-scale production confirms it — for the first time, the stage hosts a full 14-piece orchestra and a cast of 26, including several Broadway veterans making their DTC debuts. SOUTH PACIFIC blends 1940s nostalgia with timelessness, and a collection of classic songs, including “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Ha’i” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.” In the capable hands of Director Bud Martin (DTC’s Executive Director), with a stunning set by Dirk Durosette, the emotional, heart wrenching, and sometimes extremely funny show features incredible talent, with the Broadway vets performing seamlessly with regional actors and local children.
Central to the story are Ensign Nellie Forbush, played by Sarah Litzsinger (some may recognize her as the longest-running Belle in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), and French planter Emile de Becque, a passionate, kind-hearted man with strong beliefs and a secret past, played with perfection by Michael Sharon. Other big-timers include Christopher DeProphetis as the Princeton-schooled Lt. Cable, who falls for Tonkinese girl Liat (the lovely Stephanie N. Walters), the daughter of scene-stealer Bloody Mary, the Tonkinese merchant with a big personality played by the wonderful Amy Jo Phillips; and John Plumpis, who appears to have stepped out of a 1940s movie, as the comedic sailor Luther Billis. The regional cast has no problem keeping up. As Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison, the island’s top Officers, Jerry Carrier and Will Dennis bring plenty of personality to the roles, and the ensemble of sailors and nurses look and sound amazing. The local children, who rotate to play the roles of Emile’s son and daughter Ngana and Jerome, are charming and delightful (as an extra challenge, the children speak only French).
Visually, SOUTH PACIFIC transports you to the war-torn island paradise, from Emile’s palatial estate to the military camp, with unforgettable details such as a “Jeep” that drives around the stage, a working shower, and a recreated WWII plane. The set design isn’t overdone — even with the atmospheric set and fun details, it’s the actors and music that are the center of attention. SOUTH PACIFIC’s themes of love, war, and prejudice speak to audiences today as much as they ever have. This is far from an old musical that serves as a piece of nostalgia only (though it certainly does that, too). DTC has shown that it can pull off a big production with a live orchestra with wild success — it’s a milestone in the theater’s recent history that should not be missed. SOUTH PACIFIC Music by Richard Rodgers Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan Adapted from the novel by James A. Michener Directed by Bud Martin April 10 – May 5, 2013 Delaware Theatre Company 200 Water Street Wilmington, DE 19801 302-594-1100 http://delawaretheatre.org