Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some Enchanted Matinee

After the opera season has ended, what is an opera fanatic to do but to search the city for other shows to attend? I jest, I am a huge fan of Broadway, and always have been, but never in my life have I attended a production at the Lincoln Center Theater. That is, not until last Saturday when I finally saw the award winning Bartlett Sher production of South Pacific.
Ever since I saw Paulo Szot serenade Deborah Voigt during the opening night moviecast last September I've been itching to see it. Plus, who doesn't get the irresistible urge to hear a true baritone sing "Some Enchanted Evening"?
I first have to say that I am a great fan of Bartlett Sher, I loved his Barber of Seville at the Met and this was just as impressive. There were no moving doors, mind you, but the sets were beautiful and the moving thrust stage was very affecting at certain moments in the show, particularly the first act curtain. The stage also pulled back during the famous and fabulous overture, revealing the talented orchestra led by Fred Lassen. They sounded like a lush, old-fashioned Broadway orchestra. In other words, very much like an opera orchestra or a philharmonic, and they accented the singers beautifully.

I kept hearing how I simply must see Kelli O'Hara, as the original Nellie, but truthfully I thought Laura Osnes did as fine a job as anyone. She was charming, sang beautifully, and moved with grace and sparkle across the stage. My one bone to pick is that she did not keep her "hick" accent while she was singing. I know how hard this can be, but if you want to have an accent you have to keep it. Otherwise I thought she was lovely, particularly during "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "Honeybun."
Paulo Szot was frankly put the best pick for the role of Emile de Becque. His European charm, dashing good looks, and operatic voice (which made any microphone virtually unnecessary) made him a perfect romantic hero. Being in the very front row, I could watch him very carefully, not to mention that he almost sang "Some Enchanted Evening" right to me. You could tell the moment he started singing that he was an opera singer, just the way he approached the music made it so obvious. It was beautifully done, as was "This Nearly Was Mine." Besides his beautiful singing, Mr. Szot is also an affecting actor, eliciting so many emotions from the audience.
Another actor who brought heart-wrenching emotion from the audience was Andrew Samonsky as Lt. Cable. He portrayed the lieutenant as very suave and yet tortured. His "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" was chilling, and "Younger Than Springtime" was beautiful. His death was the most poignant moment in the show, and when Liat (played by Li Jun Li) learns he has died I must admit I cried.
Danny Burnstein was hysterical as Luther Billis, the comic figure in the show. He was wonderful, a real joy to watch. As Bloody Mary Loretta Ables Sayre was both spooky and intriguing; "Bali Ha'i" was a highlight of the evening. Both of these - what could be considered - supporting roles were rightfully portrayed as major characters and both actors made their mark on the production.

Being that most of the original cast is still in the production, I say that no one should wash this show right outa their hair, and everyone should go and prepare themselves for some enchanted evening! (Could that be any more cliched?)

Happy Listening!!! =)