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South Pacific (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Individually, all of the performers in Bartlett Sher's celebrated Broadway transfer of South Pacific are excellent and they deliver Rogers & Hammerstein's classic tunes with panache and affection. But the show needs the one thing that is missing here; chemistry.

Samantha Womack's Nellie Forbush is feisty and the actress has excellent stage presence during the like of "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair", as she truly captures the wonderous feeling of true love. Likewise, Jason Howard is truly commanding as Emile de Becque and his Operatic background elevates these iconic songs to another level.

But, you never really buy into the concept that these two are a couple. They sing about the feelings and Womack even dances like a girl who is head over heels. Yet, sadly - as soon as they share the stage - there is no real spark. This could be added through the direction, as more emotion could be conveyed but instead Sher follows the text almost slavishly.

There are so many great performances though, that do lift the show when it sags. Alex Ferns is wonderful and has a great sense of comic timing as Luther Billis. He is ably supported by Cameron Jack as Stewpot but particularly Luke Kemper's Professor, as this young actor has a real knack for physical comedy.

Loretta Ables Sayre as Bloody Mary completely owns the stage and her "Bali Ha'i" is a real showstopper, as she imbues the number with a real balance of light and shade. Daniel Koek is also in fine voice, as ever and is a dashing Lt Joseph Cable.

The supporting cast and swings rise the challenge of such a busy stage and each of them are excellent. Joe Langworth's choreography could be livelier and incorporate more of the unsung heroes from the back of the stage, but they all give great performances, regardless.

Michael Yeargan's set design has depth and flexibility and Donald Holder's lighting creates some stunning scenes to reflect the looming threat of war. Catherine Zuber's excellent costumes deserve a mention as they capture the period, perfectly.

Overall, this is not quite the "Enchanted Evening" that you want it to be, as it doesn't gel completely. And at three hours - it's a long night, but the cast work their grass skirts off and they are worth the ticket price, alone.

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