South Pacific (Ages 12 and older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28 – $70
Ever since TPAC announced it’s 2011-2012 Broadway series last year, I’ve waited with bated breath to see the touring production of South Pacific. It’s one of the few true Broadway classics I have never had the opportunity to see on stage until this week. And it’s a Rodgers & Hammerstein piece, so it has to be gold, right?
Apparently, that depends on the particular production. Before curtain, sitting in my seat flipping through the playbill, my heart sank as did my hopes when I realized this was another NETworks Presentations show rolling through town under the guise of a “Broadway” production. NETworks is a non-equity theater production company famous for launching touring shows that aren’t necessarily that great, Shrek the Musical being its one aberration into the realm of a quality theatrical experience.
Unfortunately, South Pacific falls into the NETworks “rule” category versus the “exception.” The star of this production of South Pacific is clearly the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein. It’s too bad, though, that the cast didn’t do it many favors. Almost every one sings flat or off key at some juncture. Marcelo Guzzo, who plays French plantation owner Emile de Becque, needs to pull back on his character’s French accent during his musical numbers, because quite frankly, it’s impossible to decipher what he’s singing … and that doesn’t meld with a musical since the songs are the crux of propelling the storyline.
Usually in a show that suffers from an array of problems, I can find at least one redeeming quality, one particular thing that is the potential cream that rises to the top. However, I find this production to be lackluster across the board. There is not enough chemistry between Nellie Forbush (played by Katie Reid) and Emile to make anything about their relationship close to believable.
Overall, this production of South Pacific at best is akin to a decent community theater offering that has a really good stage set, with the exception of the one lonely palm tree that never leaves the stage regardless of scene changes where it doesn‘t belong. Donald Holder’s lighting design, though, is tremendous in how it reflects the background of the sea.
South Pacific on Broadway was heralded for its greatness originally and likewise with its revival on the Great White Way a few years ago. I wish my introduction to this show had been there. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it and appreciated it instead of being bored by what I experienced.
If you opt to check it out for yourself, make it a date night with your honey and leave the kids at home. There is some mature subject matter, and even if this production was a stellar one, the dated material reaching back to the World War II era will be lost on your kids. Older theater patrons who aren’t as bent on perfection and remember their history, will most likely appreciate it.