Wednesday, August 26, 2009


By Brendan Lemon

The excitement was palpable this week in a midtown-Manhattan rehearsal room as the cast and creatives of the South Pacific tour gathered en masse for the first time. Looking around the room, which included not only the folks going on the road but the entire South Pacific community, Bartlett Sher, the production's director, said, "It's amazing to see how many people are here."

Before Sher took the floor, other individuals essential to the enterprise also spoke. Bob Boyett, the enterprise's producer, welcomed everyone and spoke about how "brilliantly" this revival had been received when it opened on Broadway in April 2008. The executive producer of that staging, Bernard Gersten of Lincoln Center Theater, extended greetings "on behalf of the mother country." Ted Chapin, the President and Executive Director of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, introduced Mary Rodgers Guettel, the daughter of South Pacific composer, Richard Rodgers, and Alice Hammerstein, the daughter of the show's lyricist and co-book writer, Oscar Hammerstein II.

Other connections to history were invoked by people in the room. Sher stressed how South Pacific is "written out of a real story." He made a connection to the social climate when the production premiered in 2008 on Broadway, when the country, he said, was fighting two wars and George W. Bush was president, and compared it to 2009, with a new president. The political climate, Sher said, was now "a completely different thing." (A nonpartisan historian might point out that those two wars are still going on.)

What is not different from last year's Broadway production and the tour's sure-to-be-glorious version of it is the amount of talent involved. Genson Blimline, who is the tour's Stewpot, was also in the Lincoln Center production. (Other Lincoln Center vets going on tour are Mike Evariste and Eric L. Christian.) Blimline, who recently got engaged to South Pacific tour performer Jacqueline Colmer, looked around this week's rehearsal room and told me, "I really glad we're going to be able to share the South Pacific experience with the rest of the country - not just San Francisco and L.A. but places like Fayetteville and Lincoln, Nebraska."


For more pictures from our First Day of Rehearsal go to our Facebook fan page or our Friends of NETworks website.

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