Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 15, 2011

South Pacific

Suffield Players, Suffield, CT
through May 22, 2011
by Meghan Lynn Allen

Suffield Players gives the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical "South Pacific" a new lease on life. It begins with the sweeping overture of a gifted orchestra led by Music Director and trombonist George Garber, Jr. A simple yet picturesque backdrop sets the stage for a classic story of love, loss and the challenges of America servicemen and servicewomen stationed on a small island during World War II.  The cast should be proud of their solid performance. Standouts include Stephanie Devine as naive U.S. Navy nurse Nellie Forbush who nails the romantic exuberance and tender, golden voice of a Rodgers & Hammerstein ingĂ©nue; Rich Moran, Jr. as sophisticated French plantation owner Emile Debecque who romances the audience with operatic bass tones; and Becky Rodia Schoenfeld as shrewd native merchant Bloody Mary with impeccable comic timing and a charmingly haunting mezzo.

Director Frank Borelli deftly pulls off a legendary large musical in a small space. The 20-member cast keeps the action fluid, an amazing feat on a small stage. And even though casting is liberal in terms of age and race, the actors make it happen and the audience is able to surrender to their suspension of disbelief. Much admiration to Konrad Rogowski (set design), Jerry Zalewski (technical direction and lighting design), and Dawn McKay (costume design) for completing the picture and putting the finishing touches on this romantic wartime musical. Special kudos to Al LaPlant (sound designer) Jerry Zalewski and for making everything beautifully heard. It's not often that you go to a community theatre production and can hear every word and sound, especially with such a large cast and orchestra. Songs like "Bali Ha'i," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," and "Some Enchanted Evening" resonate through the hall with warmth.

Still need a reason to see "South Pacific" before it closes? Cute kid alert! Bradshaw Mattson (Jerome) and Kennedy Mattson (Ngana) light up the stage and bring a smile to your heart in their brief appearances on the Suffield Players stage.