I often wondered why I love musicals so much, and Saturday night I figured it out. Unlike movies with a good plot and great acting, concerts with wonderful music and powerful singing, or performances by nimble dance ensembles, musicals are a combination of all three. When done well, they are unforgettable.
Case in point, South Pacific ... the quintessential musical (you're probably humming "Some Enchanted Evening" right now, aren't you?).
Saturday I had the pleasure of experiencing Rogers & Hammerstein's award winning musical at Lehigh Valley's own Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. What a fabulous performance and what a great way to celebrate the festival's 20th season on the campus of DeSales University.
South Pacific is one of the first musicals I remember seeing multiple times, so I was shocked to hear a lady mention it was her first time seeing the show. Even without knowing the plot, I'm sure she was familiar with at least some of the more popular songs in the score, like "Bali Ha'I" hauntingly performed by Amy Jo Phillips as the islander "Bloody Mary" or "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-A My Hair" playfully sung by (Emmy nominee) Marnie Schulenburg's character "Nellie", a World War II nurse.
The highlight of the evening for me though was hearing William Michals who played the part of "Emile de Becque", a French born plantation owner. He commanded the tune "Some Enchanted Evening". This song requires a strong baritone voice, and fresh from the same role on Broadway, Mr. Michals delivered just that.
South Pacific runs until July 3rd, but I'd suggest you get your tickets right away. You won't be disappointed. To quote the character Emile de Becque - "When all you care about is here, this is a good place to be." The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is just another Lehigh Valley gem making this "a good place to be". Will you be seeing this production, or any other Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival productions this summer?