Bristol Hippodrome

South Pacific - November 2011

  • Sell out first night for South Pacific at Bristol Hippodrome

  • ‘Rapturous and revelatory!’ New York Times

  • Gorgeous! South Pacific doesn't just float; it soars!’ USA Today

  • ‘The best Rodgers and Hammerstein in a generation’ Washington Post

How do you follow those sentiments?

Well there were lots and lots of ‘happy talk’ among the audience leaving the Bristol Hippodrome on the opening night of South Pacific.Despite its length – two and a half hours - the show was outstanding and all I can say is catch it while you can during its two week run in Bristol.

The star of the show is undoubtedly EastEnders Samantha Womack who sang, danced and ‘washed that man right out of her hair’ in a story of wartime passion and prejudice in the tropics.

The cast also included other well-known EastEnders and actors from Emmerdale and Doctors.Against the backdrop of a volcanic island in the middle of the ocean we learn in song about the wartime lives of American service personnel stationed abroad and their interaction with the indigenous population.

The marines and nurses wear 1940s uniforms and off-duty sunwear to play out a story of love found and lost in the flitting moments of adversity.

The funny bathhouse scene comes alive with lots of bare bottoms and soap suds on stage reminiscent of the 1960s musical Hair and the Thanksgiving revenue with its turkey costumes made out of old magazines and medical staff tap-dancing by moonlight is a colourful spectacular.

The energetic sailors had all eaten their spinach and sported muscles and tattoos like Popeye with only one Buddy Holly wimp spoiling the butch line-up.

But Bloody Mary stole the show with her walk, profane talk and survival instinct and her daughter’s party trick with a pink handkerchief was amazing.

Wheeling and dealing with shrunken heads and grass skirts was a trio of smart-arsed seamen versus a street-wise native mother in this musical set in World War 2.The theatre was selling floral garlands in aid of Great Ormond Street hospital charity.

This is the most acclaimed production ever of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific to go on a nationwide tour and it plays at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, December 3.

Miss Womack plays the role of Nellie Forbush, with Tony-nominated actor Loretta Ables Sayre is Bloody Mary and Welsh National Opera star Jason Howard is the Frenchman Emile de Becque.Musical theatre star Daniel Koek who was in the UK hit production West Side Story plays Lt Joe Cable and Alex Ferns of Guys and Dolls is Luther Billis.

The cast features Elizabeth Chong as Liat, Cameron Jack as Stewpot, Luke Kempner as Seabee/Professor, Dominic Taylor as Commander Harbison and Nigel Williams as Captain Brackett, with Carly Anderson, Jill Armour, James Austen-Murray, Chris Bennett, Lawrence Carmichael, Mairi Cowieson, Matthew Crowe, Stephen John Davis, Lisa Dent, Eddie Elliott, Chris Jenkins, Maria Lawson, Nyron Levy, Dean Maynard, Adam Pritchard, Dominic Smith, Mikel Sylvanus, Jacqueline Tate, Danny Whitehead, Bleu Woodward and Nick Wyschna.

The original Broadway production opened in 1949 and ran for almost five years.

The musical score includes familiar songs like Some Enchanted Evening, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, Bali Ha’i, I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy, Younger than Springtime, Happy Talk and There is Nothin’ Like a Dame.Featuring a cast and live orchestra of 50, this is a ravishing and breathtaking production brought to the UK by the entire Lincoln Center creative team.

This is led by director Bartlett Sher, musical staging my Christopher Gattelli, sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Donald Holder, sound by Scott Lehrer, musical supervision by Ted Sperling and original orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett.Musical direction will be by Jae Alexander.

The Lincoln Center Theater production of South Pacific is produced at the Barbican Theatre and on tour by Bob Boyett, Bob Bartner, Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group, and Genesius Theatrical Productions in association with Promenade Productions.

The evening show is at 7.30pm with 2.30pm matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tickets at £18.50 - £45 with some concessions.


Carol Deacon