| May 04, 2006


Feature Article - May 7, 2006

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Feature Article - May 7, 2006

Some enchanted evening:NFLTpresents SouthPacific

by Chava Field-Green

The Sharbot Lake High School auditorium was crammed full of eager musical theatre fans last weekend, as the North Frontenac Little Theatre presented their rendition of Roger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific under the artistic direction of John Pariselli.

Even before the show began, the audience was wowed by the breathtaking backdrop and sets, complete with three carefully constructed palm trees. The set was designed and painted by Joanne Pickett, along with an army of helpers. As the lights dimmed, the orchestra, led by musical director John McDougall, set the mood for a night of laughter and songs.

Heart_and_soul

South Pacific is about Nellie Forbush, a young navy nurse at a base far from home. Kristin Windenmaier portrayed Nellie wonderfully, hitting every note dead on, and bouncing her way around the observant navy officers. Knuckle-Head Nellie, as she is referred to, falls in love with wealthy French plantation owner Emile de Becques played by Craig Godfrey. Craig brought a sweet lover’s innocence to the dashing older Frenchman, making sure that none of the audience forgot his stirring rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening”.

While their romance roller coasters, we are introduced to Lieutenant Joe Cable, a newcomer to the island, played convincingly by Renny Stopford. Joe is immediately taken under the wing of Captain Brackett, a middle-aged southern bachelor in charge of the troops, hilariously portrayed by Norm Guntensperger. With Joe comes news of the war, and the navy’s involvement, exciting all of the troops.

On their down time Cable is enticed by Bloody Mary, a seasoned trader of wares, who sings to him of another island, “Bali Ha’i”. This hauntingly beautiful song and all other aspects of the fabulous Bloody Mary character are played by Pam Giroux, who has been peforming on the NFLT stage for 25 years. Bloody Mary is probably the most entertaining of all the characters in the play, with her Polynesian accent and foul-mouthed greed. Of course Cable follows her and Luther Billis, a troublemaking, show-stealing senior navy seaman, portrayed by Paddy O’Conner, who happens to be a retired Chief Petty Officer with the Canadian Navy. While Billis was looking for women, Bloody Mary was looking to set up “Sexy Lutellin” with her lovely Tonganese daughter Liat, played by Emily Dickinson. As always Emily brought a strong stage presence and sweet voice to her role. Of course the two fall hopelessly in love, voicing this love with the sweet “Younger than Springtime”. Later on they also sang “Happy Talk”, with Bloody Mary.

Heavy on the romance and light on the war surrounding them, South Pacific tells two love stories. Both Cable and Forbush have their tolerance toward those of a different colour tested. Prejudice plays a big role as both characters strive to overlook these imbedded attitudes that are driving their respective romances apart.

Luckily, when the going gets tough, the characters sing a song, usually accompanied by the flirty chorus girls in their cute beachside costumes, as in the classic “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair”, and the hilarious “Hunny Bun”, which involves Billis portraying a female dancer. The chorus girls added considerable color and spirit to the play. On the other side of the gender spectrum were the marine seamen, who gave stellar renditions of “Bloody Mary”, and “There is nothing like a Dame”.

There were many memorable performances, such as Kevin Melcher’s portrayal of Captain Brackett’s rigid assistant Commander Harbison, who comments on the strength of his older bachelor boss, and his interestingly shaped desk-top sculpture.

Mark Duarte played a hilarious marine, teaching Bloody Mary many of her crude American phrases. Holly Dickinson and Jacob Brash were adorable as Emile de Becque’s Polynesian children Ngana and Jerome, singing the ever popular “Dites-Moi”.

Special mention goes out to low-voiced Zak Pendree as Stewpot, Scott McCullough as Sailor Quail, Rob Stachan as Sailor Adams, and Paul Spaar as the professor. All four of these newcomers displayed remarkable stage presence.

South Pacific was a very enjoyable way to spend an evening, living up to the NFLT standard of great community theatre.

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