June 13, 2006 — One of the musical theatre world’s all-time classics is on tap for Heritage Repertory Theatre this season. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific will open at the University of Virginia’s Culbreth Theatre beginning June 22nd, directed by Robert Chapel.
This exotic and timeless tale of love and prejudice first wowed Broadway audiences in 1949 with its mix of the unforgettable songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Some Enchanted Evening, There is Nothing Like a Dame, Bali Ha’i) and the remarkable stories of James Michener (Tales of the South Pacific). Since then, millions around the world have experienced the show’s powerful love story and equally powerful depiction of the divisive power of intolerance.
It was the unfortunate timeliness of the intolerance message, brought home to him in a single ugly moment, which drove Director Robert Chapel to select the show for this season.
Chapel was directing Moises Kaufman’s powerful play The Laramie Project at the University of Michigan last fall. “During the run of the show,” he said, “the production was picketed by a group from Kansas, members of which carried signs bearing hateful anti-gay messages.”
As he scanned the crowd, Chapel was struck with the indelible image of one particular sign-bearer who held the sign in one hand and his daughter’s hand in the other. “Standing there, I immediately thought of the lyrics from one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most memorable songs, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.”
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
“I realized that our world hasn’t changed much since 1949, and that I needed to do South Pacific next summer!”
The show features Heritage Rep favorite Nancy Snow from Washington, D.C., as Ensign Nellie Forbush. Snow has performed as leading lady in a great variety of HRT productions, including a memorable turn as Maria in West Side Story and Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Playing her leading man, Emile De Becque, is T. Doyle Leverett, an accomplished actor and singer whose extensive credits include recently performing the title role in Most Happy Fella at the New York City Opera, where he understudied for Paul Sorvino.
Meanwhile, Snow’s real life leading man Eugene Carr, another perennial audience favorite at HRT, plays the role of Luther Billis. The role allows the talented comic actor to not only go toe-to-toe with his spouse on stage, but also dress to dress!
South Pacific will run from June 22-24 and from the 26-July 1 at 8pm , and will feature a matinee at 2 pm on July 1.
To order tickets, visit the box office at Culbreth Theatre or call 434-924-3376.
For more information on HRT and its 31st season, visit the Heritage Repertory Theatre Web site.
Next on stage at HRT…Nunsense…Opens June 20 in the Helms Theatre!