It is regarded as one of greatest musicals to ever play on Broadway, winning a slew of awards since its debut in 1949. Now after garnering seven Tony Awards and playing sell-out seasons all over the globe, the Lincoln Center Theatre's stunning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'South Pacific' has finally come to Brisbane.
This ground-breaking new production, directed by Bartlett Sher, features a cast of 40 and a live orchestra playing Rodgers & Hammerstein's beautiful score. The story centres around an America nurse who is stationed at a US Naval base during World War II who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner but then struggles to accept his mixed-race children.
The cast includes Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes in the lead roles, supported by Christine Anu and Gyton Grantley. Anu, a seasoned performer, who had never been involved in 'South Pacific', gamely took on the challenge of being show ready in a very tight timeframe. Q: Describe the show in 5 words?
Captivating, Colourful, Classic, Confronting, Life-changingQ: What is your role and how did you become involved?
I play the role of Bloody Mary, a souvenir hawker from the island 'Bali Ha’i', which is also the title of one of the main songs the character sings. I became involved in the show after being asked to audition when the role was vacated.Q: Highlights of being part of such a big production?
Touring to different places and performing to so many different faces is always a highlight. Working with big-name stars and a reputable company as well as a huge pool of talent that offers wonderful support. Q: Drawbacks or challenges?
Touring! Being away from my family and routine is a drawback. My challenge has been stepping into a huge role already established by the previous actor and cast, and having a short and intense rehearsal period, like being in a pressure cooker. It’s been a big challenge.Q: Describe a typical rehearsal?
Eight days of something like this to start: there is a vocal call with the Musical Director concentrating on the first song, then hop on stage and block that song. Then a vocal call with the MD to go through another song, then hop on stage and block that number. Towards the end, real actors come in and there’s a tech run on the second last day.Q: Have you seen any other versions of 'South Pacific'?
I haven’t seen any versions of 'South Pacific', only this production.Q: What makes a good musical?
A good musical must have an interesting plot, a theme, romance, comedy, sadness and mystery, great characters — the beautiful leading lady, the charming, funny and handsome leading man and maybe a villain. There must also be amazing costumes, choreography, lighting and sets and of course the music that enhances and drives the story and leaves you singing the songs long after and wanting more.Q: Any funny/ crazy/ weird/ wonderful stories to share about being part of this?
I played 'Liat' in my high school production which is not a singing role. Strangely, the person playing Bloody Mary was painted black. The production I did played down the racial discrimination theme, where as this production, I felt very confronted when I started the show during rehearsal.Q: Anything else readers should know?
I have to wear tooth enamel — black, red, and 'nicotine' — for every performance. It is a little hard to remove and of course the first couple of times left my gums bleeding and too sore to keep brushing but I have to, to get the stuff off.
'South Pacific' is playing at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until January 27.