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'South Pacific' Hylton High School

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page PW03

'South Pacific' Hylton High School

Alluring hula girls and mischievous sailors dominated the stage, while an infectious tropical atmosphere filled the auditorium. Where else could we be but at Hylton High School's production of "South Pacific"?

The musical was originally adapted from two short stories by James Michener, and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II provided the music and lyrics. South Pacific ran for 1,925 performances after it opened at New York City's Majestic Theater in 1949 and became the second-longest-running musical of the decade.

The story takes place on an island in the South Pacific during World War II. It chronicles two love affairs, the first between Lt. Joe Cable and a young Polynesian girl, and the second between small-town Navy nurse Nellie Forbush and cultured French planter Emile de Becque. The tale focuses on the culture clash between the native islanders and the military units that disrupt the island paradise to defeat the Japanese.

Matthew Marcus was superb as the polished and cultured French planter. His accent was consistent throughout, and his suave performance was almost unnervingly convincing as that of an older gentleman. Sarah Smith persuasively revealed an optimistic innocence, and her heartbreak was tangible and believable as nurse Forbush. She also showed impressive singing and dancing talent.

The ensemble of sailors had great energy, and their macho teasing and horseplay and comic timing were delightful to watch. Shannon Kingett as Bloody Mary, the island's opportunistic entrepreneur, engaged in hilarious stage antics and had a beautiful singing voice in "Bali Ha'i." Troublemaking sailor Luther Billis (Jim Smith) had the audience roaring with his charismatic comedy. His fearless feminine cameo in "Honey Bun" was as surprising as it was amusing. Capt. George Brackett (Kurt Hoffman) drew many laughs as the pompous and self-righteous naval officer in charge of the island.

The entire production flowed smoothly, and scene changes were barely perceptible. The sound cues were practically flawless, and the dialogue and music were crystal-clear. The orchestra was strong and greatly enhanced the mood of each scene. An unexpected blackout occurred in the first act, but the cast did a brilliant coverup and kept going as if nothing had happened.

Hylton's "South Pacific" was absolute tropical merriment, and "Happy Talk" could be heard all round as cast members took their final bows.

Rue Khalsa

Paul VI High School

When was the last time we reminded ourselves of the true meaning of love? The heartwarming smiles and Polynesian warmth of paradise was reflected in Hylton High School's vibrant performance of "South Pacific."

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical follows a young, idealistic American nurse, Nellie Forbush, as she falls in love with an older Frenchman, Emile de Becque, on an island in the Pacific during World War II. Their passion is challenged by misconceptions of hate and fear, but through the paralleled romance of a young Polynesian girl and an American soldier, Nellie and Emile realize that love can triumph over anything.

Sarah Smith starred as Ensign Nellie Forbush, the passionate and youthful nurse. Smith handled the emotional role of Nellie with poise and grace, inspiring and leading the cast with energy and exuberance. Her performance of "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" was unmatched, and her voice unparalleled. Her transitions and presence carried the show effortlessly. Opposite Smith was Matthew Marcus as the idealistic and hopeless romantic Emile de Becque. His consistent French accent was noteworthy, and his vocal projection strong and intense.

The supporting cast featured Shannon Kingett as Bloody Mary, Jacob Grob as Stewpot, Alton Mosley Jr. as Lt. Joe Cable and Jim Smith as Luther Billis. Kingett's voice and presence in "Bali Ha'i" were excellent, and her consistent enthusiasm was highlighted during "Happy Talk."

Grob and Smith provided unmatched comic relief and played off each other perfectly. Mosley was strong and unwavering in his portrayal of Cable, and his emotion was moving.

The show was a technical feat, and the sound crew -- Philip Keirstead and Chris Murray -- was excellent. The stage mikes amplified each song and allowed the audience to understand the lyrics clearly and effortlessly. The stage crew eased transitions quickly and silently.

The ensemble of sailors and marines was fun and vivid, and those performances were audience favorites.

The original story of "South Pacific" is intense and difficult, yet the cast and crew rose to the challenge and warmed hearts with their rendition. Stimulating and reflective, Hylton's production reinforced the simple pleasures of believing in true love and is truly heartwarming and commendable.

Emma Causey

Yorktown High School

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