Review: South Pacific

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Leeds Grand Theatre

Starting life as a Pulitzer prize-winning novel Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific is the epitome of the post war musical.

But where others had a sugary make-believe storylines, South Pacific embedded the social problems of the time in its plot. It tackled race discrimination and the problems that affected men and women serving in the Second World War. Despite such a stark underlying current its plot is beautifully gift-wrapped making it one of the most emotionally charged and enduring love stories of all time with more hit songs in its score than any other musical.

After the film version and numerous tours, South Pacific was put into cold storage, seen as drab, overly long and fraught with staging problems.

Ingenious, seamless and minimalistic set changes, an orchestra who give the score pace and momentum and cleverly staged musical numbers breath new life and vitality into what was once regarded as a dated and laboured show.

South Pacific is a shining example of high energy teamwork. As Nellie, Samantha Womack is bright and vivacious while Matthew Cammelle is an outstanding Emile with a fine baritone voice with passion in his convictions coupled with a warm romantic tenderness.

With a strong supporting cast and dynamic live orchestra, this is the best musical the Grand has staged this season.