South Pacific, The Alex, Birmingham
CATCHY tunes make Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific a feel-good musical but it pays to remember that this is also a serious piece of work exploring racial prejudice in the Second World War.
Two romances are interwoven - Nellie, a naive naval nurse from Arkansas who falls for French planter Emile de Becque and that of Lieutenant Joe Cable who has a relationship with Liat, a young Tonkinese girl, pimped to him by her mother, the sinister Bloody Mary.
Stealing the show is Loretta Ables Sayre from the States as bawdy Bloody Mary, the Tonkinese wheeler-dealer who is both terrifying and likeable but the passion between Nellie and Emile was rather underwhelming and unsatisfying.
With stunning sets and memorable songs including I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right outa my Hair, There is Nothin’ like a Dame and Some Enchanted Evening – the production smoothly balances the darker issues with plenty of comedic moments.