South Pacific
by Canyon Crest Academy

Emma Stratton and Spencer MeredithIn 1949, when Rodgers and Hammerstein penned South Pacific, it proved controversial. A young white woman from Little Rock, Arkansas discovering her racial prejudice when learning that the French widower who wants to marry her is the father of two children by a Polynesian woman, while Joe Cable hesitates to marry a Tonkinese woman due to her race. At the time, and for several years later, many states had laws forbidding interracial marriage, and a healthy majority of the country agreed with those laws. People didn’t like hearing that this was because “you have to be carefully taught” how to hate, as Cable sings. The producers of the film version wanted to cut the song rather than offend those who held such bigotries. Rodgers and Hammerstein told them to include the song, or there would be no movie.

So perhaps it’s fitting that Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego stages this classic just three days after America elected the son of an interracial marriage. And just three days after California voted to ban same-sex marriages, a majority of the population embracing another restriction of marriage, telling a portion of the state’s adult population that they are incapable of selecting the spouse of their choice. Some see the vote as an important victory for morality, while others see it as a blow to basic civil rights, and proof that many people are still learning how to hate.

The lovable Nellie Forbush is the one who has to try to un-learn those lessons, with Emma Stratton starring in the role as the fun, lively, and sweet nurse with one critical flaw. Emma has a remarkable singing voice and good stage presence, shining in the lighthearted Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair sung with her fellow nurses when she gets mildly apprehensive about getting involved with a man she hardly knows (and who just admitted he killed someone). But sung before the greatest threat comes to their relationship. Spencer Meredith is the French widower Emile, singing the beautiful ballads Some Enchanted Evening and the touching This Nearly Was Mine. Joe Cable (Antonio Romero) has to battle his own inner demons, singing Younger Than Springtime to beautiful Bali Ha’i native Liat (Frances Farabaugh) before explaining his refusal to marry her with Carefully Taught.

Erin Wuthrich, Antonio Romero, Patrick Kelley, and Nick ScuttiThey are surrounded by a colorful group of supporting characters, none more so than the singular Bloody Mary. Erin Wuthrich is a riot, whether she’s mooning over Cable (literally – checking out his butt), throwing in little things like her giddy bye-bye’s to Cable as he sails from Bali Ha’i, annoying an embarrassed daughter Liat with her eager interference, or ripping into “stingy bastard” Seabees. Patrick Kelley tops the list of stingy bastards as Luther Billis, the entrepreneurial Seabee always out to make a buck who excels at pretending to be a woman (miming Bloody Mary in a Bali Ha’i reprise or joining Nick Scutti as a couple hula girls at the Thanksgiving Follies in Honey Bun with Nellie). The ensemble of nurses also join Nellie in a fun version of Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair, and the group of dame-deprived Seabees shine as they lament there ain’t Nothin’ Like a Dame. In a nice touch, one of the dancing dames (Jake Picker) comes back to pick up her hat and playfully drives the guys further nuts for the last part of the song, leaving the Seabees crumbling rather like falling tin soldiers as she finally leaves (choreography by Rayna Stohl).

Director Jeannine Marquie’s production featured some good singing, humor, and staging during such scenes as Nothin’ Like a Dame and the Thanksgiving Follies, proving to be an enjoyable remount of this classic, as well as a very timely production as society again grapples with its evolving concept or marriage.

Performed November 7 - 15, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Sailor: Aaron Allen
Nurse: Janelle Baldwin
Nurse/Dancer: Elissa Benjamin
Nurse: Eleanor Blase
Nurse/Dancer: Brianna Bobbit
Sailor/Pilot: Hunter Bolt
Bracket/Sailor: Chris Braden
Nurse: Haley Carlborg
Adams/Sailor: Sam Cook
Sailor: Tyler Crouch
Sailor: Jonathan Edzant
Nurse/Liat: Frances Farabaugh
Henri/Sailor: Robert Fisher
Nurse: Chelsea Fryer
Jerome: Josh Guicherit
Nurse: Rebecca Golden
Nurse/Dancer: Katie Grainger
Sailor/Pilot: Pete Hoban
Quale/Sailor: Eric Huckabee
Nurse/Dancer: Arianna Irwin
Billis: Patrick Kelley
Ngana: Sophia Marks
Nurse/Dancer: Rachel McCormick
Nurse: Torrey Mercer
Dinah: Brittney Meredith
Emile: Spencer Meredith
Nurse/Dancer: Lindsay Mitgang
Harbison/Sailor: Connor Murphy
Sailor: Alex Newbury
Sailor: Nick Noetzel
Officer/Sailor/Pilot: Hunter Peterson
Professor: Alden Phinney
Nurse: Jake Picker
McCaffery/Marine: Izzy Pollak
O'Brian/Sailor: Michael Popov
Cable: Antonio Romero
Stewpot: Nick Scutti
Nurse MacGregor: Kelsey Spelich
Nurse/Dancer: Erica Stevens
Nellie: Emma Stratton
Nurse: Trinity Veach
Nurse: Danielle Wisdom
Bloody Mary: Erin Wuthrich

Director: Jeannine Marquie
Music Director: Cory Hibbs
Choreographer: Rayna Stohl
Set Designer: David Weiner
Technical Director/Lighting Designer/Props: Becky Pierce
Stage Manager: Kerri Blake


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