Mark and Amy Sarchet, as Emile DeBecque and Nellie Forbush, reflect on the "enchanted evening" they have just experienced in the Cherokee Community Theater's production of "South Pacific." Photo by Dan Whitney
"South Pacific" was one of the first musical collaborations between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, the pair who were also responsible for such other classic as "Oklahoma," "Carousel," "The King and I" and "The Sound Of Music." The story is based on two short stories by James A. Michener from his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1948 book, Tales of the South Pacific. The musical first appeared on Broadway in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. Besides the great musical numbers, the play also marked one of the first times the issue of racial prejudice was sensitively and candidly explored.
Sydney Morton, as Bloody Mary, sings about the mysterious "Bali Ha'i" for island newcomer Lt. Joe Cable (Blake Burroughs).Photo by Dan Whitney
"South Pacific" is generally considered to be one of the greatest musicals in history. Several of its songs, including "Bali Ha'i," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Younger than Springtime," and "A Wonderful Guy," have become worldwide standards. The original Broadway production of South Pacific won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Libretto, and is the only musical production ever to win all four Tony Awards for acting. The show was a critical and box office hit, has since enjoyed many successful revivals and tours, and spawned a 1958 film version. The latest Broadway revival recently won seven more Tony Awards.
The Cherokee Community Theater recently presented this classic musical for a week at the Washington High School auditorium.
Amy Sarchet, as Nellie Forbush, and Marc Sarchet, as Emile DeBecque, had the leads in the local production, and handled their roles admirably (and tunefully). The Sarchets were very ably supported by Blake Burroughs as Lt. Joe Cable, Dave Zelle as CDR Harrison, Sydney Morton as Bloody Mary, Nicholas Loughlin as seaman Luther Billis, Gene Galvin as Capt. Brackett, Ryan Brown as Stewpot, and a cast of - well, not thousands, I guess, but there were plenty of talented people whose contributions helped to make the production a memorable one.
The local production was directed by veteran Sherry Held, assisted by Jenny Burroughs and Ashley Weede. Wayne Morris handled the sound and lighting and Dr. David Klee served as recording engineer. Lisa Hunter served as choreographer for the production, as well as performing as Ensign Hunter.
Luther Billis, played by Nick Loughlin (top), and his fellow sailors agree that "there is nothin' like a dame." Photo by Dan Whitney