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South Pacific (Edinburgh)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Although the subject matter may seem tame by the rather sensationalist standards of today, South Pacific tackles full on subjects that may have been rather uncomfortable for middle America to watch. When it comes to racist views , as one of the characters sings, you have to be carefully taught. The show also boasts what may well be Rodgers and Hammerstein's finest score, brimful of wonderful melodies and sharp lyrics. And if it isn't  R & H's best score, it does contain, what I think is their best song in This Nearly Was Mine.

The production touring the UK began at Lincoln Center in New York and while it is scaled down a little, it still has a big and magnificent sounding orchestra (conductor, Jae Alexander ) and a large and talented ensemble. Samantha Womack creates a believable and nuanced Nellie Forbush and as the slightly mysterious Emile, Matthew Cammelle is in wonderful voice.

Tony nominated actress Loretta Ables Sayre has been with the production since it began in New York and her magnificent Bloody Mary has a world weary wiliness. In fine comic relief form is the blustering Billis of Alex Ferns and Daniel Koek sings the hell out of Joe Cable.

The direction by Bartlett Sher is rather more traditional than the National Theatre version by Trevor Nunn of a few years back. Yet, there are moments of real invention and beauty in his production. As there is in the musical staging by Christopher Gattelli, especially in the rousing There Is Nothing Like A Dame.

Too often fine musicals from the past  have their reputations sullied by cheap and unimaginative touring versions so there is a real joy to seeing and particularly hearing this fine production of a classic musical.

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