South Pacific. Theatre Review. Liverpool Empire Theatre.
Cast: Samantha Womack, Matthew Cammelle, Alex Ferns, Daniel Koek, Loretta Ables Sayre, Elizabeth Chong, Cameron Jack, Luke Kempner, Dominic Taylor, Nigel Williams.
There is a memorable song half way through the second act of Rogers and Hammerstein’s superb musical South Pacific that not only gets into your head so much you end up whistling or humming on the late bus home but that is also very apt for the conversation and good natured chatter as the audiences spilled out on to Lime Street after the show, there really was nothing but Happy Talk.
Dealing with the emotive subject of loss, war, specifically the conflict in the Pacific Rim during the dark days of World War Two and the notion that everyone runs away from something at one time in their lives. You just have to ask what it is you may be running from!
For a strong and world-wide appreciated and adored production such as South Pacific, you need the strongest cast possible. A troupe of actors who are going to make every single detail of the performance utterly believable is essential to the dynamic of the musical. The Empire Theatre was privileged to have a cast that did just that. With talented actor Samantha Womack playing the lead female role of Ensign Nellie Forbush, the musical was assured to be a sensation. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It is a world away for Ms. Womack from the trappings of television and in particular the world of soap operas. The theatre is a true home for her splendid ability and her presence on stage lit up the Empire and away from the subject matter at hand. Her duets with the incredible Matthew Cammelle were enchanting and spectacular.
A great surprise on the night was seeing Alex Ferns on stage as the likeable Luther Billis. To television audiences, he is chiefly remembered for being one of the most unsavoury characters to ever appear on British television. On stage and playing against Samantha Womack during the play, he showed not only a quality that had those assembled confused on how to take his performance but he also portrayed qualities that left much to be admired. It is with hope that this great and varied performer will come back to Liverpool once more.
There was much to enjoy during the whole show, the music was as crisp and delightful as it should be, including an all-round excellent cast rendition of There is Nothin’ Like A Dame which had many in the audience singing along joyfully at the thought of being on a desert island surrounded by sea, sand and the occasional glimpse of a nurse.
This was musical theatre at the very top of the list, a night of pure splendour which should be watched by all!
Ian D. Hall