South Pacific at Lakewood Theatre Company - Sampling from the Oregonian Review
Theater review: "Lakewood Theatre's South Pacific - a refreshing surprise"
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012, 4:40 PM by Carol Wells, Special to The Oregonian
Pictured: Mike Dederian and Stephanie K. Leppert in Lakewood Theatre Company's production of South Pacific, playing Sept. 7 - Oct. 14, 2012 at Lakewood Theatre. Photo by Lake Oswego Photographers.
Those people whose fuzzy late-night television recollections of the 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein movie "South Pacific" primarily involve Ray Walston dancing campily in a coconut shell bra will likely be pleasantly surprised by the musical stage production at Lakewood Theatre Company.
The story of Nellie (Stephanie K. Leppert), an American Navy nurse who falls in love with a French planter (Mike Dederian) while stationed on a faraway island becomes, in director Ron Daum's vision, an unfolding epic: a long, languid journey that begins as American nurses and sailors fritter away the hours as Japanese forces gain ground early in World War II.
When the Americans interact with the inhabitants, cultural assumptions are challenged, especially impacting Nellie, who is forced to confront her prejudices. The exoticness of the Polynesians is embodied by the character Bloody Mary, the animating spirit of the island, played by the remarkable Barbara Irvin as part bunco artist, part fertility goddess.
In addition to the messages of social import, there are plenty of wisenheimer Seabees, sexy WAVES and familiar songs, like "Some Enchanted Evening," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "There is Nothin' Like a Dame," which are given satisfying renditions.
Before the action quickens and the pace of the production picks up, the spirited, skillfully rendered musical score performed by nine live musicians (including musical director David Hastings) keeps things lively.
And that dance in the coconut bra? As performed by Brandon B. Weaver as Luther Billis, it remains the most joyful and memorable moment in the play.
Read full review on the OregonLive site.
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