Mill River Dinner Theater's current production is Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic musical SOUTH PACIFIC. The well known story of innocent young,Navy ensign Nellie Forbush(Ann Marie Sylvester) falling in love with middle-aged French plantation owner,Emile De Becque(Bill McMillan) during World War ll. It also contains the secondary story of Lt. Joe Cable(David DaCosta) falling in love with a Tokinese girl, Liat(Andrea Tosone), the daughter of Bloody Mary(Dawn A. Boukari), the saleswoman of island wares. The predjudice of people is as important a message to overcome now as it was back then, Throw in assorted sailors, nurses, two children and two officers and you have the ingredients for this well made musical presentation.
Chuck PetitBon does triple duty in this show as director, chef and Commander Harbison. He and musical director Bruce Hookway cast the show extemely well acting wise and vocally. The comic and poignant moments in the lines and songs come shining through. The choral, solo and duets show all the hard work done on this show. Another word of praise goes to Patty Abrames, the choreographer who showed the 24 member cast the many and varied dance numbers while doubling as Ensign Minelli. Great job Chuck, Bruce and Patty. The storybook set design, assistant directing and stage managing duties are held by their righthand girl, Juliana Kaspari. The island sets are so realistic you'd swear you are in the South Seas. She runs a tight ship and the results are apparent in the smooth set changes.
Ann Marie is an excellent Nellie. She possesses not only a beautiful singing voice but a wonderful innocence in her acting. She makes Nellie , the wide-eyed hick who sees life for the first time. Her dramatic moments standout when she thinks Emile is dead in both the office and outdoor scenes. The comic "Honey Bun" shows Ann Marie is adept at the comic aspects of Nellie, too. She sells all three of her other numbers and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to her role. Brava!
Bill McMillan is the definitive Emile. His French accent, song and line delivery is perfection in action. "This Nearly Was Mine" wrenches the audiences hearts and the sadness is displayed in his voice and body language. Bill and AnnMarie also play the loving and playful aspects of their characters well, too. Standout moments include the strong scene where Emile refuses to go on the mission as well as his acceptance scene with Cable.Bill brings a lot of depth in his characterization in this show and every other show I've seen him in. Wonderful job!
Dawn makes Bloody Mary a comic gem with her performance. This woman has a dynamite voice and she sells both "Bali Hai" & "Happy Talk" to the crowd. Dawn also has a wonderfullly dramatic moment when she angrily throws the watch at Cable. She shows her love for Liat near the end of the show after Cable's death by bringing her to meet Nellie. Andrea Tosone plays the underwritten role of Liat well. Her lines are in French but her love scenes with Cable standout without any lines being necessary.
David DaCosta is splendid as Lt. Joe Cable, the doomed lover of Liat. "Younger Than Springtime" is one of the most outstanding numbers in this show. This young man's tenor voice soars to dramatic heights and sends chills up one's spine. David sells the reprise with a sad vocal delivery and just the right facial expressions. He fleshes out his character and hopefully will appear in many other superlative roles.
John Los plays the mean, crusty Capt. Brackett who keeps his men in line. He handles the comic side of this intense person, too. John always delivers a strong performance. The comic performance in the show is handled by Anthony Mazza as Luther Billis. His devious salesman and womanizer show through and he sells his songs to the audience. "Nothing Like A Dame" is wonderfully performed by Billis and the sailors especially in the tenor part by Ron Shemick. The two children are cute as buttons and are played by Leah Kenney and Jessica Hookway. The two girls sing beautifully, too.(The show has three other Hookway family members involved, Elizabeth and Emma in the chorus and mom Nahiah running lights and sound.)Other standout parts are Nellie's best friend Dinah(Kami Crary), Theodore Fleming as the French butler Henry and Billis' crony Stewpot and Joshua Fogarty as Buzz Adams who has long technical naval term monologues. All three delivered their lines and roles very well. Kudos to every cast member in the show. Have a super run!