REVIEW: King Edward VI Grammar School’s South Pacific

South Pacific
South Pacific

AS I took my seat at the Playgoers Theatre, looking forward to its latest production, South Pacific, I smiled at the ladies sitting next to me.

They chatted a little and they told me that they had no connections to KEVIGS and they had travelled from Grimsby for the Friday night show. “You’re in for a treat,” I said as the lights went down.

Treat it most certainly was. The calibre of the acting, singing and dancing talent at KEVIGS must surely stand up to any other school in the country, and the ensemble performance of this most demanding of musicals covered a myriad of emotions from sadness through to loss, defiance, humour, love and much more.

The quality of the orchestra, conducted by Andrew Amey, was, without doubt, outstanding. The music reflected the wealth of emotion to a standard that made one wonder at this being a school production.

The range and accuracy shown by the musicians was, in the true sense of the word, awe-inspiring.

The delightful Dites-Moi opened the play, later followed by the exuberant Nothing Like A Dame, the sassy I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, the haunting Bali Hai and, of course, Some Enchanted Evening echoed throughout.

The singing was amazing. Special mention must go to David Amey, who, as Joe Cable, gave a moving rendition of Younger Than Springtime and also, to Ellen Hommel’s and Harry Charalambous’ sweetly innocent Dites-Moi.

The set was simple and clever, as it moved seamlessly between the quiet retreat of Emile de Becque to the homequarters of the American troops, the military office and Bali Hai itself.

The attention to detail was evident in every scene. I particularly liked the shower/colander and the fact that Nellie did genuinely wash her hair! Also, the use of cast members moving the set around, in role, at the end of Act One was a lovely touch.

The dancing was thoughtfully choreographed by Issy Parkes. The big numbers in particular impressed, as they somehow managed to allow the audience a sense of the whole cast being involved whilst at the same time letting them focus on individual performers. Very clever!

The two groups of military men and women gave some fine performances. There Is Nothing Like A Dame was uplifting and entertaining and it gave everyone an opportunity to perform on their own. Equally, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair was lively, funny and a joy to watch.

Special mention must be made of Seremma Hotson and Craig Greaves. Seremma played the part of the determined and canny Bloody Mary to perfection, often making the audience laugh out loud. Craig Greaves, as Luther Billis, was everything he needed to be; a charmer and a chancer who lit up the stage.

His performance in Honey Bun was utterly glorious, and I for one would happily have paid the price of the ticket just to see that number.

Finally, the two leads: Lizzy Marshall and Chris Stuart as Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque.

Playing the reserved de Beque who has to face difficult moral choices is hugely demanding and Chris played the part with assurance and subtlety.

And Lizzy? She quite simply shone. She was exuberant, funny and warm; a perfect contrast to Chris’s thoughtful de Beque. The many songs that they shared were wonderful.

Overall, under the superb direction of Carole Ashcroft and the musical direction of Andrew Amey and Martin Priestley, we experienced a spell-binding show. Looking at the programme, it is staggering to think of the way they have united so many people; actors, musicians and backstage crew to produce this fantastic evening.

I knew that the ladies sitting next to me were anxious about the icy roads on their way back to Grimsby.

“Was it worth it?” I asked as we were leaving. But of course, I knew the answer. “It most certainly was!”

It really had been an Enchanted Evening.