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Newbury Operatic Society - South Pacific

22nd to 26th April 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

The men hit the high spot

Newbury Operatic Society: South Pacific, at The Corn Exchange from Tuesday, April 22 to Saturday, April 26

In view of recent events, American troops and sand are familiar sights, but this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical stretches back to another beach and another war. Every song is memorable and the storyline an impeccable mix of comedy and tragedy.

Dites-moi, sung robustly by Ngana (Clare Butler) and Jerome (Chris Scott), began the performance, following the evocative overture with musical director Michael Evans in charge of a strong orchestra. Memorable vocal performances followed, particularly from Zoe Wells (Ensign Nellie), Mike Cound (Emile de Becque) and Andrew Geater (Lieutenant Cable).

Zoe captured Nellie's character exactly: one minute pensive, the next lively and her voice well-matched with Mike, whose resonant, sympathetic interpretation of some of the best show songs ever written made good listening.

As Cable, Andrew Geater had the lovely Younger Than Springtime to woo Tonkinese Liat (Nikki Demolenis), but I liked the feeling he put into Carefully Taught, too. It isn't often that hand movements come in for praise, but Nikki's were a delightful part of her mum, Bloody Mary's (Anne Bennett) Happy Talk. A good performance, too from Chris Austin, consistently maintaining his American accent as Captain Brackett.

Luther Billis (Tony Randall) was a great leader of the men's chorus and the high spot of the show was There Is Nothing Like A Dame, each individual line sung by a good voice, with verve a high factor and although elsewhere in the show the choreography was occasionally stilted, here the movement was excellent. Well done men!

Particularly good singing, too, came from the women's chorus, helping Nellie 'wash that man outta her hair', although some costumes were inappropriate for this number. Sorry, but another gripe was for the lighting, which on the first night often went a dim too far, something I am sure that the experienced producer, Jeannette Maskell, will have sorted out.

The NOS work hard, provide enjoyable performances and, above all, keep going. Newbury is lucky to have them.