I remember seeing a brief piece of news film decades ago when James Michener returned as an old man to visit the Pacific Islands. As he stepped off the boat there were tears in his eyes. Surely the music from “South Pacific’s” Bali Ha’i must have been ringing in his ears.
That Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is presently being staged by Atascadero High School’s drama department in the Sage Baro Gymnasium at the junior high school. It is interesting to note that the show is dedicated to director Catherine Kingsbury’s late father, who served in a Navy CB (construction battalion) in the Pacific during World War II.
The difficult leading roles are sung and acted by Emily Ingram as Ensign Nellie Forbush and Dakota Pope as Emile de Becque, who did a fine job. You’ll love Dakota singing the classic “Some Enchanted Evening.”
Tylor Bundy as Luther Billis, the sailor who lives to make the rest of the Navy his partners in crime and fun, and an anathema to the brass, was absolutely delightful. He and the rest of the young men playing those sailors inhabiting this tiny island added greatly to the musical, especially with their performance of “There’s Nothin’ Like a Dame.”
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But I was swept off my feet by the performance of Rainey Forzetting in the role of Bloody Mary and had tears in my eyes at the end of the duet of “Bali Ha’i” sung by Rainey and Lulu Mack, who plays Liat, Mary’s daughter. There was no place for the play to stop while that number could receive applause. Tylor, in his role as Billis, only enhances that number with a comedic treatment.
Another big treat in the show is provided by the Bali Ha’i drummers and dancers featuring lead dancer Sienna Stinson. Wow, what a performance.
Atascadero’s drama teacher, Catherine Kingsbury, was joined by music teacher Emy Bruzzo as well as Suzy Miller, who did the choreography.
The show only has four more performances, Thursday through Sunday, with a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m. Curtain for the evening shows is 7 p.m.
Turn off the TV, confiscate the kids’ cell phones and other electronic dumbing devices and show your support of Atascadero High’s performing arts students.
In reality, although going to see this play will help support upcoming dramas and musicals, you will be the one who benefits from the infusion of beautiful music, and a timeless tale of love and prejudice and romance as fresh today as it was more than a half century ago.
By the end of the night, you will have been transported to an enchanted island.
To reserve tickets, call 550-6248.