If you’re like me and have never seen South Pacific before, here’s a basic idea….
Set on a tropical island during World War II, this is the sweeping romantic story of two couples, threatened by the realities of war. Considered one of the finest musicals ever written, the score includes Some Enchanted Evening, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair and There is Nothin’ like a Dame.
Before I continue you need to realize this, I’ve never seen South Pacific – or so I thought.
The production at the Wales Millennium Centre takes you into a world of G.I.’s, south sea living…and the Second World War. Not quite the usual setting for a love story you may think, and to add into the mix some of the most iconic musical numbers by Rodgers & Hammerstein, you have one of the most beloved musicals reborn for the modern era.
Featuring a stellar cast including Samantha Womack, Jason Howard and Alex Ferns, you realize quite quickly how good this production is. I did note that the majority of the audience were probably 50 plus, that’s not to say this isn’t for you if your younger than 50 as South Pacific transcends the generations. Unless you’ve got a heart of stone, it’s a story of love between two people and all the problems they face set against the backdrop of World War 2.
Jason Howard is a world renowned Welsh baritone and oozes quality – even I as a poptart can see this. Samantha Womack is brilliant. You soon forget any Eastender past (even though the bloke that put Little Mo’s face into gravy on Christmas Day plays Bilis), and you realize just how good a singer she is – forgetting she was the UK’s Eurovision entry in 1991! Her musical CV full of classics – Sandy in Grease and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. But for me, she’ll always be Mandy in Game on… and yes, I do have a bit of a crush.
Going back to a previous statement of me never having seen South Pacific the film or on stage, I was surprised how many songs I knew. Yes I was aware of Happy Talk (thanks to Captain Sensible’s number one in 1982), but as the show went on, I realized I knew more and more of the soundtrack. I’m now thinking during the time I was in the belly of my mam, she played the soundtrack constantly as how else could I know more than I realized? Or maybe the songs are just such a classic I’ve heard them and not realized their context? I’d prefer the former option actually!
I can’t say enough for you to go and see South Pacific. If you’ve never seen a musical before, it’s a pretty good starting point, or if you love South Pacific you’ll adore this version. It’s a win win love situation.http://southpacificonstage.com/video-audio-images (By Simon Annand. Barbican London, August 2011) Review by Patrick Downes / @officialpoptart