25-29 October 2016
Reviewed by Linda Pickford
Last night my husband and I went to see the Torquay Operatic Society’s rendition of A Revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific at the Princess Theatre in Torquay. Although I did see a stage performance many, many years ago it’s the 1958 film version I really remember. Also the unforgettable Morecambe and Wise version of There is Nothing like a Dame played with the BBC Weathermen and Newsreaders. So TOPS had a great deal to live up to.
The storyline is of a South Pacific Island during World War Two with two sets of lovers being thwarted by American prejudice and bigotry. The first love story is between Nellie a young navy from Little Rock Arkansas and Emile de Becque an older French plantation owner. They both experience an instance spark when they meet and over the following days it grows steadily. Nellie has initial reluctance to falling in love with an older man and even tries to convince herself by singing “I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Outa of my Hair”. However, Emile convinces her that they have true love.
Soon Lieutenant Joseph Cable arrives on the Island. He is on a special spy mission but needs Emile to help him. Cable is introduced to a young local girl, Liat, by her mother Bloody Mary. They also fall in love but he tries to keep his distance when he understands that her mother is basically trying to sell her to the highest bidder.
Emile turns down the idea of helping out the American forces because he has found love again. Unfortunately, Nellie is introduced to his two young children. Their mother was Polynesian and Nellie cannot get over her inbred dislike of interracial marriage. She finally turns him down and runs out into the night. Meanwhile Joseph also finds he cannot condone marriage to Liat for the same reasons. Emile subsequently changes his mind and agrees to join Joseph on his dangerous mission to another island. Nellie finally discovers that colour doesn’t matter and believing that Emile had died learns to love his children and begins to look after them.
The wonderful score takes you through the story with great verve and professionalism. All the cast were excellent with some really powerful singing throughout. It is very hard to pick out any special people but Helen Haviland as Nellie Forbush was consistently good as was Peter Clement playing the part of Emile de Becque. His bass baritone was outstanding. Penny Daw (Bloody Mary) and Gary Abraham (Billis) brought much laughter and delight to the evening.
The Musical Director, Rob Young, must also be congratulated on a job very well done. The musical accompaniment was excellent.
All in all, the entire performance was well worth going to see and I would recommend it for a very pleasant night out. As usual the Princess Theatre was very welcoming. However, if you intend to see the show I advise that you arrive early. Being a local cast the parking areas get full rather quickly.
Tickets cost from £19.90 to £21.90 (plus £4 transaction fee).
South Pacific is at the Princess Theatre in Torquay until 29 October 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3023.
Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, TQ2 5EZ | 0844 871 3023