1994 South Pacific

Chronicle Review

Full house for 40s love story

South Pacific,
Witham Operatic Society

WITHAM Operatic Society met the expectations of its faithful followers in its performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein's crowd-pulling favourite, South Pacific.
It was the second time around for this production in the society's 72-year history and attracted
a full house at the Public Hall throughout last week. Many of the playgoers were humming Happy Talk, Some Enchanted Evening and There is Nothing like a Dame on their way home.

Well portrayed characters were not all matched by individually strong voices, but the lively performance snatched this 1940s love story straight into the appreciation of a modem-day audience.

The action in this show takes place during World War II. Romances unfold between a French planter and a US Navy nurse, and between an American Marine Corps lieutenant and a native girl. Convincing French and American accents deserved praise - where slips and exaggeration
have seen other professional actors and actresses fail acutely.

Highly commendable was Janet Wash's extremely convincing acting with her cheeky, eccentric Madame “Bloody Mary”. She was played with a delightful flamboyance which easily put her in the spotlight each time she stepped the boards.

French lover Emile de Becque was portrayed by Stewart Adkins, whose smooth singing voice
rounded every note wonderfully and made the familiar songs a genuine treat. Another creditable performance came from Michael Dunion, as Luther Billis, and not to be forgotten were two children, Charlotte and Anthony Clough, who played perfectly charming youngsters with a brave mastering of French!

The show ran along beautifully with class musical accompaniment by the Chelmsford Sinfonietta orchestra.

Alex Morss

BWT Report

Romantic Musical

SOUTH Pacific is a musical brimming over with well-known songs and Witham Amateur Operatic Society gave capacity audiences the chance to hear them at the Public Hall last week.
In an American military setting the men’s chorus were soldiers and the ladies nurses and islanders. The story centres on two romances blighted by racial prejudice.

Pat McLeod brought vitality and enthusiasm to her part as the leading lady. Stewart Adkins was the Frenchman who by his heroism turned the course of the war. His pleasant voice combined well with that of Pat McLeod.

This show gives opportunities to many minor characters. Nicholas Ladd caught the eye as the professor. Children are often ill at ease on stage but Charlotte and Anthony Clough were refreshingly natural as children of the Frenchman. The chorus came into its own with the camp entertainment on Thanksgiving Day, in particular the women's chorus.

Surprisingly the producer, Derek Collins, gave the chorus very little to do, resulting in a rather static production. Brian Brown was the Musical Director and led the Chelmsford Sinfonietta. The sets and costumes were very effective, and the many scene changes worked smoothly.

Geoff Coverdale was the commander of the base and Tim Nash his assistant. Michael Dunion as Luther Billis made their life difficult with his antics. Philip Cousins as an Officer had a very easy style and a voice to match. Lucy Yeeles as the native girl moved beautifully. The romance was however doomed because of their different races. Janet Wash seemed to enjoy herself as Bloody Mary.

The audience certainly enjoyed the vitality outstanding, larger than life production.


With thanks to Lydia Clough for copies of these reviews