JEB Stuart High School South PacificBy Cappies • May 2nd, 2007 • Category: Cappies
You didn’t have to be a cock-eyed optimist to enjoy JEB Stuart High School’s production of South Pacific. Their rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical was delightful, replete with stunning lead performers and an ensemble to match.
South Pacific, set in the war-torn 1940s, centers around a young nurse stationed in the Pacific Islands, who falls in love with a French expatriate. Their romance is hindered by racism and war, but in the end their love conquers all, and they are able to be together.
In JEB Stuart’s shining production, Rachel Dady portrayed sweet, outgoing Nellie Forbush, whose only apparent fault is a bigoted background that at first obstructs her love. Dady’s lively expressions and remarkable singing voice made her character sparkle. The object of Nellie’s affection is Emile De Becque (Daniel Snyder), a Frenchman with a mysterious past. Snyder’s charming voice and overall charisma created a realistic, likable character.
Adding a second romantic plotline to the story is Lieutenant Joseph Cable, an innocent young man who falls in love with the island and its treasures, particularly one beautiful girl. As Cable, Jonathan DeHart portrayed a gentleness that brought the character’s romantic side to life. Bloody Mary (Caitlin O’Neill), the mother of Lieutenant Cable’s love interest, is a woman who knows little English but whose personality speaks for itself. O’Neill’s performance was dynamic; her deep, bellowing vocals and outstanding stage presence made her stand out in songs like “Bali Ha’i” and “Happy Talk.” Another significant supporting character was Luther Billis, played by Frank Blackmore. Blackmore brought great humor to the show, especially in his shining moment of song and dance, “Honey Bun,” in which he gallivanted about the stage hilariously attired in a grass skirt and coconut bra.
The creative and carefully detailed set (Frank Blackmore) helped to bring the feeling of the mountains and ocean to the audience. Unfortunately, though, the scene changes were somewhat slow. The lighting (John Feick) and sound (Mark Goldstein and Karla Platzer) also faltered in places, but generally provided effective technical support for the action on stage. And the broad, bold sounds of the orchestra created a steady foundation from which the vocalists could ascend.
As the audience left JEB Stuart’s lovely production of South Pacific, much happy talk could be heard, proving that this was some enchanted evening of theater.
by Cathryn Dutton of TC Williams
This review was written by a Cappies high school critic. The Cappies were founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.
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