As previously tipped EastEnders star Samantha Womack returns to the stage for the first time since Michael Grandage's 2005 production of Guys and Dolls playing nurse Nellie Forbush. Womack's previous stage credits include Peter Hall's Betrayal, and Up 'n' Under written and directed by John Godber as well as extensive television work.
Tony Award winner Paulo Szot reprises his Broadway performance as Emile de Becque. The Brazilian operatic baritone made his Broadway debut in Bartlett Sher's Lincoln Center production, and visits London professionally for the first time with South Pacific. Szot alternates with Welsh National Opera's Jason Howard who take the role from 29 August to 21 September.
Bartlett Sher won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his direction of South Pacific, which went on to win six other Tony Awards. Resident director at the Lincoln Center he told this morning's press launch it was as pleasure to be bringing a show to London just as the National Theatre's War Horse was commencing its Broadway season at the venue.
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The 1949 Rogers and Hammerstein musical was last seen in the West End ten years ago when it was revived by Trevor Nunn at the National Theatre. That outing won Philip Quast the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Emile de Becque. South Pacific was also toured by UK Productions in 2007.
When asked how his production would differ from screen adaptations and Nunn's revival, Bartlett Sher said he had avoiding seeing the films and resisted the temptation to rearrange the start of the musical as Nunn had, the show instead having the smaller, more subdued opening Rogers and Hammerstein had intended.
Speaking at this morning's event Sher also said he had taken the musical back to its roots. At the helm of the show's first ever Broadway revival (the original production won the Pulizer Prize and nine Tonys) he has taken the opportunity to explore the way the musical dealt with racism.
Following its Barbican run the show will tour nationwide opening on 12 October at Milton Keynes and playing Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol and Oxford, finishing in Southampton on 4 February 2012.