Review: South Pacific, University Drama Studio

South Pacific
South Pacific
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Taking place on a U.S. Naval Base in the Pacific Ocean during WWII, the first act sets the scene. Romance is in the air which is helped along by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s terrific tunes. The second half entails more heroic escapades and wartime espionage.

Josh Holliday is terrific as cocky sailor Luther Billis, leading his men in There is Nothing Like a Dame, to say nothing of an interesting second half alter ego dance. Becki Stowe and Davron Hicks are great as Nellie and Emile duetting on Some Enchanted Evening. The two famous songs I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair and Happy Talk also receive fine renditions. The song that echoes in the mind however and gives the play its mystery, magic and exotic quality is the haunting Bali Ha’i sung by the wonderful Jill Beckett as Bloody Mary. It feels like the promised land where cares and worries of wartime can be forgotten.

Another more subtle, blink and you miss it gem is the subversive wisdom of You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught as the excellent Jamie Cooke as Lt. Joseph Cable explains to Emile that people are not born racist but are carefully taught to fear and hate what is different.

As always it’s a joint effort from a large cast at Splinters. Director Andrew Hibbert deftly conducts proceedings, ably assisted during the musical numbers by Chris Keen with some skilled choreography by Hayley Twigg. A large, unseen band of ten deserve plaudits too.