Review: South Pacific at Cambridge Arts Theatre

South Pacific at Cambridge. Picture: Tony Lumb

South Pacific at Cambridge. Picture: Tony Lumb - Credit: Archant

For those who love amateur shows, and there was an enthusiastic audience on the opening night, applauding almost every number, it was all there: some fine performances, some acting so terrible it should really only be between consenting adults, a superb orchestra, two cute children and a great set.

Cambridge Operatic Society presents South Pacific at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, November 30.

Review by ANGELA SINGER.

For those who love amateur shows, and there was an enthusiastic audience on the opening night, applauding almost every number, it was all there: some fine performances, some acting so terrible it should really only be between consenting adults, a superb orchestra, two cute children and a great set.

There are some good voices, but one of the leads was singing flat – and that’s on the level. But the overture is magnificent and the band carries the show throughout, because working musicians are never amateurs. They are people who have to earn a living doing something else. Even Mozart had to teach.


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That said, there are some stars on the stage. Emma Vieceli’s performance as Nellie Forbush is by itself worth seeing the show for. Her voice is full of music and her performance made you see the little girl from Little Rock. She made the part her own. Similarly, David Gower’s Frenchman Emile de Becque was moving and convincing and their solos and duets meant something.

Trenetta Jones is a powerful, operatic Bloody Mary, who conjured up the world of Bali Ha’i. She was utterly believable, as the South Pacific’s answer to Mrs Bennet.

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Plaudits also to Richard Sockett as Captain George Brackett, whose performance had authority and to the two children who opened and closed the show, Lily Ong and Arun Austin.

The difficulty with this beautifully written musical is that the whole cast needs to be a triple threat to carry it off. You forget when you see professional shows all year that acting isn’t something everyone can do. It’s interesting to see what happens when the uninitiated walk onto a stage.

All that said, the show is fast-paced and fun. The cast has plenty of verve. At times, it is the vision of a cockeyed optimist but at others an enchanted evening.

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