Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

South Pacific - Pack Your Bags for an Enchanted Theatrical Journey
Drayton Festival Theatre

Chilina Kennedy and Branch Fields, South Pacific
Chilina Kennedy and Branch Fields, South Pacific

Rodgers & Hammerstein's award-winning musical is brought to life once again, this time with a star-studded cast at the historic Drayton Festival Theatre. South Pacific launches the 2014 Season with a limited three-week engagement, now through May 31st.

Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director of Drayton Entertainment, reports "The calibre of artists and creative personnel involved in this production is incredible. The result is an enchanting musical for audiences of all ages."

In a South Pacific island paradise Nellie Forbush, an ambitious U.S. Navy nurse from Arkansas, falls madly in love with Emile de Becque, a middle-aged French expatriate and local plantation owner. However, Forbush soon discovers that de Becque has two children from a previous marriage to a Polynesian woman and this revelation sparks a turbulent tale that centres upon Nellie's struggle to accept his mixed-race children.

When U.S. Marine Lieutenant Joseph Cable arrives on the island as part of a dangerous spy mission, it's not long before he is introduced to Liat, the beautiful daughter of an island wheeler-dealer known as Bloody Mary. Cable and Liat are instantly attracted to each other and their romance grows but, like the young Nellie Forbush, Cable begins to exhibit racist sensitivities when pressed to marry Liat by her mother. He reluctantly declines, realizing that the Asian girl would never be accepted by his family or Philadelphia society. Furious with this outcome, Bloody Mary intervenes and swears to marry-off her daughter to another man.

With Nellie's staggering rejection, Emile is distraught and decides to join Lieutenant Cable on the spy mission behind enemy lines. It's during this time that the Lieutenant is forced to face his prejudices. But will love prevail? Will he and Nellie overcome their bigotry and release themselves as prisoners of their social conditioning before it's too late?

Chilina Kennedy, rightfully regarded as one of the great leading ladies of the stage, delivers a magnetic performance as Ensign Nellie Forbush. She balances just the right amount of vulnerability with youthful ignorance that is essential for this iconic character. Kennedy's dramatic performance takes the audience on an emotional journey, as her flawed character grows to discover more about herself and the world at large than ever thought imaginable.

Chilina Kennedy and Branch Fields_South Pacific "Chilina Kennedy is an accomplished performer," says Mustakas. "She has been a sensation at the Stratford Festival for the past few seasons and Drayton audiences are absolutely thrilled to see her starring in a major production on such an intimate stage."

Much of the success of South Pacific hinges on the rapport between Nellie and Emile, and this production displays palpable chemistry between the two characters.

American Opera and Broadway star Branch Fields is perfectly cast as the enigmatic Emile de Becque, giving a natural portrayal of the sophisticated ex-pat. Fields commands the audience's attention whenever he's on stage and his rich voice is simply captivating in such numbers as "Some Enchanted Evening," and "This Nearly Was Mine." Fields made his Broadway debut in South Pacific, understudying the role of Emile de Becque in the Lincoln Center production.

Susan Dunstan impresses as the shrewd Tonkinese peddler, Bloody Mary, who is trying to find her daughter a rich husband. Dunstan delivers the famous tune, "Bali Ha'I" with a hypnotic touch. Genevieve Sermonia portrays her delicately beautiful daughter, Liat, with true passion.

Liam Tobin is the Princeton-educated Lieutenant Joseph Cable. Tobin has a splendid voice and the perfect physique to portray the sensitive, young Marine. Captain George Brackett is exceptionally portrayed by theatre veteran Brian McKay, and David Snelgrove is also engaging as Commander William Harbison. Salvatore Scozzari is tremendously energetic and amusing in his portrayal of the street-smart hustler, Luther Billis.

South Pacific has an impressive ensemble cast consisting of Andrew Broderick, Vanessa Cobham, Michael Donald, Jessica Horn, Anna Hurshman, Judy Kovacs, Melanie McInenly, Matthew Rossoff, Patrick Stiles and Christopher Wilson.

Tate Yap and Belle Lemieux-Chan are two remarkably talented young performers who portray Emile de Becque's children, Jerome and Ngana. Yap and Lemieux-Chan open the musical with a charming rendition of the infectious French tune, "Dites-Moi." Both youngsters are local talent, Yap, age 11, is a native to Cambridge and Lemieux-Chan, age 12, hails from Guelph.

Director and Choreographer Michael Lichtefeld has mounted a production that captivates the audience by astutely showcasing the complex emotions and frailties of each character. In addition to directing numerous Stratford Festival productions, Lichtefeld has helmed several Broadway musicals and a number of Drayton Entertainment shows, including last season's postcard perfect production of White Christmas.

South Pacific's legendary score by Rodgers and Hammerstein is brought to life by Music Director Steve Thomas, who also plays Keys in the band. He is accompanied by the musical talents of Richard Moore on Percussion, Trent Reschny on Flute and Clarinet, Paul Shilton on Keys II, and Mikela Witjes on Violin.

Set Designer Douglas Paraschuk's simple but evocative sets allow the scenes to fade seamlessly from one to the next. Lighting Designer Jason Hand and Costume Designer Michelle Vanderheyden also assist in reviving this cherished musical by blending superb visuals and amazing costumes to convey the tropical island paradise.

James A. Michener

Based on James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical is only the second to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The original Broadway production won 10 Tony Awards and it is the only musical production to win Tony Awards for all four acting categories. The show has enjoyed many successful revivals and tours, spawning a 1958 film and television adaptations. The 2008 Broadway revival and won seven Tonys, including Best Musical Revival.

Regular performance tickets are $42.00 for adults; $25.00 for youth under 20 years of age. Groups of 20 or more pay only $34.00 per ticket. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. South Pacific is on stage at the Drayton Festival Theatre now through May 31st. Tickets may be purchased online at, in person at any Drayton Entertainment Box Office, or by calling (519) 638-5555 or toll free 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).

Drayton Festival Theatre
Drayton Festival Theatre located at 33 Wellington St. S., Drayton, Ontario

South Pacific (1958) - Original Trailer

Songs from "South Pacific", Rodgers & Hammerstein

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