South Pacific | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

South Pacific, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

If this revival needs an excuse (and dramatically speaking it does), one is that South Pacific reminds us that 50 years ago intolerance infected the winners as well as the thugs who started the war. Both Lieutenant Cable, who was educated at Princeton, and Nellie Forbush, a naive Arkansas nurse, wrestle with vestigial prejudices as they fall in love with people they've been carefully taught to hate.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pulitzer winner is a lot less dated than we'd like it to be. But trimmed to two and a half hours (one song and several stanzas and dances have been cut), William Pullinsi's overly efficient staging moves a tad too fast to move us. We miss the exotic yearning that links freedom-loving Emile de Becque (a too-young Garrett States) and exuberant Nellie (a bumptious but brittle Aimee Devlin), as well as the overwhelming passion that breaks down the racial ignorance between Cable (a stalwart Curt Dale Clark) and his supposedly forbidden Liat (a lyrical Jenny Januszewski).

Add to this Andrew J. Lupp's limited choreography, which seems improvised more than arranged, a decidedly white-bread cast, the uncredited combo's tinny synthesizer sound, and the rushed tempi of Greg Lawrence's musical direction and you've got a perfunctory production that relies too much on the power of the plot. Despite the wonderful songs, no one seems to be having much fun here.

Still, there are compensations, including Stephen Packard's lush set and the comic support: Brian Horton as the opportunistic Luther Billis and Karen Anice Long as the equally venal Bloody Mary (a perfect case of colonialism creating its own revenge).

Add a comment