South Pacific

October 29, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

★★★★☆     Slick and sassy

Church Hill Theatre: Wed 28 – Sat 31 October 2015
Review by Catriona Graham

The vibrant colours of a lush, South Pacific tropical garden, with views to a distant volcanic island, frame Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s offering for this dreich October up at the Church Hill all week.

For their first foray into the American Musical, EDGAS and director Alan Borthwick have chosen Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 show about love, war and prejudice.

Christopher Cotter as Lieutenant Joseph Cable & Emma McFarlane as Liat. Photo: Darren Coutts

Christopher Cotter as Lieutenant Joseph Cable & Emma McFarlane as Liat. Photo: Darren Coutts

Navy nurse Nellie Forbush, a sassy Fiona Main, has fallen for French planter Emile de Becque (rich-voiced David Mutch). When Nellie learns de Becque had a Polynesian wife, now dead, she breaks it off. Miscegenation is a step too far for the girl from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Main is a proper Forces sweetheart in her red swimsuit, washing that man right out of her hair. Her American accent is good and her singing and dancing full of vim, vip and verve. There is fizzing chemistry between her and Mutch’s serious and intense Emile, the moral heart of the show. His children – Elise Edwards and Nathan Faulds – sing their French song sweetly.

Meanwhile, fresh-faced Marine Lieutenant Joe Cable (Chris Cotter) has arrived for a covert mission to go behind Japanese Lines, for which he needs the assistance of de Becque. Bloody Mary (Caroline Kerr), a Tonkinese civilian purveying grass skirts and other souvenirs to the enlisted men, picks out Joe as husband for her daughter, Liat.

Though entranced – his light tenor fits Younger than Springtime – Cable recoils from marriage with a ‘native’. Yet, in conversation with de Becque, he admits that You’ve got to be carefully taught to hate.

scrubs up nicely

Around the love stories, life on the base goes on as it always does. Simon Boothroyd is wide boy Luther Billis, on the look-out for a deal or a dame. He scrubs up nicely as a grass-skirted Honey Bun for a song-and-dance number with sailor-boy Nellie in the Thanksgiving Follies. The generator outtages which punctuate the Follies cover rapid scene-changes.

Simon Boothroyd as Luther Billis, Fiona Main as Nellie Forbush & members of the chorus Photo: Darren Coutts

Simon Boothroyd as Luther Billis, Fiona Main as Nellie Forbush & members of the chorus Photo: Darren Coutts

The rest of the men turn in a rollicking There is nothing like a dame. Peter Tomassi’s Stewpot and Nick Clelland’s Professor carve out their own characters as well as being foils for Billis. Andrew Crawford’s long-suffering Radio Operator is calm professionalism during the mission, against the fidgets of Capt George Brackett (Ross Main). David McBain is his irascible sidekick Commander Bill Harbison.

For all she is teased and her lack of English exploited by the men, Kerr’s Bloody Mary remains dignified. Her two big numbers, Bali Ha’I and Happy Talk are classy. Emma McFarlane as her daughter Liat is supple and charming. The fun-loving, high-kicking nurses shimmy their way to the hearts of the men with Janice Bruce’s choreography.

In the pit, musical director David Lyle conjures up the sound of the Forties from the eleven-piece band to match the girls’ glossy locks and vivid red lips.

Running time 2 hrs 50 mins (including one interval)
Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Wednesday 28 –  Saturday 31 October 2015
Evenings 7.30 pm; Matinee Saturday: 2.30pm.

Details and tickets from http://www.usherhall.co.uk/

EdGAS website: http://www.edgas.org/

Fiona Main as Nellie Forbush & members of the women's chorus. Photo: Darren Coutts

Fiona Main as Nellie Forbush & members of the women’s chorus. Photo: Darren Coutts

ENDS

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