Garrett Stack on The Theatre Circuit.
enchanted evening can be had at the new production of “South Pacific” presented
by the Summer Theater of New Canaan. Celebrating ten years in the business,
Summer Theater of New Canaan has mounted an entertaining staging of the Rodgers
and Hammerstein classic with several standout moments and performances.
with the first echoes of “Bali Ha’I” that opens the overture, this reviewer was
pleased with David Turner and his very young 15-member pit orchestra that was
not only on pitch but perfectly balanced, thanks to wonderful work by sound
designer Brian Walters who made sure every word, lyric and note was heard. Not
something to be taken for granted, mind you.
we have music, and sound, lights up, cast ready, and two adorable little kids
sing “Dites-Moi”. Aw… We meet Ensign Nurse Nellie Forbush, played by Equity
actor Tiffan Borelli with a plausible southern “hick” flair.
Emile de Becque, suave French ex-patriot and south Pacific plantation owner,
played in New Canaan by Daniel Klein. Here’s where things started to dip.
According to the printed program Mr. Klein is, “thrilled to make the jump from
opera to musical theater.” Recently he sang leads in Beethoven’s “Ninth,”
Verdi’s “Requiem,” and “Rigoletto.” Those credentials apparently led him down
the road to grand opera and off the route to musical theater. His opening
chance to prove himself to the audience comes with the magnificent “Some
Enchanted Evening,” which he delivered in grand opera style with more rolled
r’s than I care to count. It was downright off-putting. He should have taken
his cues from the most recent Broadway Emile, Opera singer Paulo Szot, who made
the transition to musical theater without a single trill. Now that I’ve slashed
this actor, he did come around and settled into a more comfortable and
believable Emile as the evening went on.
relief time: The handsome Sailors, Seabees and Marines lifted our spirits with
their rousing traditional crowd pleasers “Bloody Mary” and “There Is Nothing
Like a Dame.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Enter Equity actor Janelle Robertson
as Bloody Mary and suddenly South Pacific takes off. She lit up the stage,
energized the cast and gave the audience something to cheer about – shrunken
heads and all. She breaks the cavorting with an incredible reading of “Bali Ha’
I” and we are in the palm of her hand.
some evil spell has been lifted, Joshua Logan’s and Oscar Hammerstein’s book comes
to life, the orchestra gets even better, and we’re now invested in Nellie and
Emile’s struggle. All thanks to Bloody Mary.
gets it going with wonderful action and singing with the rest of the nurses in “I’m
Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” – on stage shower and all. Daniel
Klein as Emile shows up and he’s now relaxed and ready to reprise “Some
Enchanted Evening.” Much better.
actors Nick Reynolds, as Luther Billis - Nellie’s friend, and Jason Michael
Evans, as Lt. Joseph Cable, bring comedy and drama to the stage delivering
noteworthy performances. Billis the comic and Cable the tormented. Nice work.
Michael Evans, as Lt. Cable, delivers two knockouts: “Younger Than Springtime”
and the show’s actual theme song, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.” All this
after Janelle Robertson gives us another treat as Bloody Mary singing “Happy
Talk” with a beautiful fan dance by Kim Wong as Liat.
the end of the show, the drama builds as personal demons rear their ugly heads
and the chance to change the course of WW II presents itself. I found myself
steeped in the action and moved by the performances right to the very end.
Hai” calls you to the Summer Theater of New Canaan for an evening or afternoon
performance of this very enjoyable production. Performances through July 13.
Theatre Circuit for WMNR, I’m Garrett Stack. [Saw the 6/20/13, 8:00 PM