Review by Dave Smith
The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company’s production of South Pacific, directed by Greg Hart, had some strong on-stage elements, and the orchestra, under the sure leadership of Trish Spence, provided warmth and balance.
The appreciative full house on opening night was well entertained by this tale of love and life during the War in the Pacific. Emma Gordon-Smith as Nellie Forbush sustained her buoyant, perky character – and astonishing accent – throughout. She sang and moved well, with I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out’a My Hair a highlight. John Greene, as Emil de Becque, used his powerful mellow baritone to good effect in both dialogue and singing. That gave him an imposing presence. Together, however, they didn’t always get the chemistry quite right.
Carolyn Mesecke’s interpretation of Bloody Mary was wonderful. She brought a genuine warmth to her relationships with other characters, especially her daughter Liat (Celeste Barone) and Liat’s love interest Joseph Cable played by Angus Birdseye, who incidentally sang his role very well. Mesecke’s sensitive rendition of both Happy Talk and Bali Ha’i really hit the mark.
Angus Smith, as Luther Billis, was also a stand-out. He led from the front in an energetic, cheeky and thoroughly convincing performance. His work in There is Nothin’ Like a Dame, with the boisterous support of the male chorus, was lively and great fun.
The set worked well, and the scene changes were smooth and efficient. The transitions between dialogue and songs, however, occasionally jarred. At times the songs seemed like stand-alone concert items, or set pieces in a light opera. For the main part, though, the production kept faithfully to the traditions of musical theatre.