The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific was absolutely enchanting from start to end. The musical follows the romance of Emile de Becque and Nellie Forbush wonderfully portrayed by Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck.
The pair meet on an island in the South Pacific whilst Nellie is an Ensign in the Navy and Emile has fled France. However, the musical has multiple story lines as we learn more about the hilarious Luther Billis as well as Bloody Mary, Liat and the new Lieutenant, Joseph Cable.
There was a cast of around 30 individuals, all of whom did an amazing job, especially the two young children playing Emile’s son and daughter. In addition to the fantastic cast, there was a live orchestra tucked below the stage making every song that much more powerful and beautiful.
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The sets were designed wonderfully and despite the regular changes of location and size of the sets, the cast were seamless in swapping things in and out. Another real highlight of the play was the rotating floor, which really added to the level of realism as characters walked and also made musical numbers that much more energetic.
Many of the scenes were contrasting, such as Liat’s song at the start being crossed over with the Navy landing on the island, and later between the fiery scenes of valley high compared to the main island. There were multiple songs throughout the musical as you would expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many I had heard once or twice before, including 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair' and 'Honey Bun.'
If that all wasn’t good enough, the cleverly designed costumes also added to the plays atmosphere and transported the audience back into the 1940s. The whole show was the perfect amount of joy, comedy, and heartbreak.
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