enchanted evenings begin tonight in YSHSs South Pacific
Photo by Lauren Heaton
Tech crew member Lydia Gerthoffer sets the lights in preparation
for South Pacific.
and the dark spring rains may prompt villagers to seek harbor in a sunnier,
more tropical place like, for instance, the South Pacific. Its closer
than it seems, and theater goers can get there this weekend when Yellow
Springs High School students open one of their biggest spring musical
productions, South Pacific, at the Antioch Theater. But be careful, theres
a war going on in there, and its more real than it seems.
The production takes place tonight through Saturday, April 24 through
26, and May 1 through 3, at 8 p.m., and Sundays, April 27 and May 4, at
The floor-to-ceiling tropic backdrop under the warm yellow stage lights
immediately transports viewers to an Asian island, where an American Navy
outfit is stationed during the Second World War. James Hyde plays an astonishingly
straight backed Commander Bill Harbison and Matthew Zaremskys piercing
voice drills out orders as Captain George Brackett. The soldiers marching
around in combat boots and fatigues bear an eerie resemblance to real
service men and women of the same age who were fighting wars then and
who still fight wars today.
But as with most Rodgers and Hammerstein classics, a plagued love intrigue
takes a parallel spotlight upstage of the political big picture. In this
case, its two love stories.
Nellie Forbush, played by a very animated Jennifer Gordon, is a Navy nurse
who falls in love with a French planter, Emile de Becque, played by Owen
Wolfe with a French accent. Another love blossoms when the servicemen
are taken to the island of Bali Hai and Lieutenant Joseph Cable,
played by Martin Bakari, meets a young Polynesian girl named Liat, played
by Anna Forster, and they too swoon sweetly over each other.
High school theater director Marcia Nowik chose this musical, which includes
40 singing and dancing young performers, because of its pertinence to
the current political conflicts between the U.S. and the Middle East,
In the original version, Cable is uncomfortable with Liats racial
heritage, and Nellie is afraid to raise de Becques two Polynesian
children because they are different. South Pacific, which debuted in 1949,
was one of the first musicals to address such issues, Nowik said.
In the upcoming performance, Nowik decided to heighten the issues of discrimination
beyond race to the realm of religion. The cross dangling from Cables
neck throughout the show holds portent when offset by the bronze Buddhas
nestled back into the palm trees of Bali Hai, where Liat lives.
Cable eventually finds he and Liat are incompatible because of their differences.
Photo by Lauren Heaton
Director Marcia Nowik and YSHS student Rose Byrnes create the South
Hidden behind the
tropical scene and not in a pit, the high school theaters first
27-member pit orchestra creates an immediacy to the familiar show. Though
they cant see the performers on stage, the group of student and
adult musicians manage to come in on audio cue and provide a musical backdrop
much like the painted sheet that hides them.
High school orchestra conductor Yvonne Wingard has directed pit orchestras
at every other high school where she has taught music, and finally now
musicians can be part of the theater in Yellow Springs as well, she said
after a late rehearsal Monday night.
Its great for musicians who love to be part of the theater,
they know the lines, they know the music, but they dont have to
be on stage, she said.
The students like the new setup as well. Chorus member Jessie Northridge
said she liked the fuller sound of the orchestra and the give-and-take
between musician and performer.
Its easy to follow them and it sounds nicer because they follow
us and we follow them.
The show is Wolfes first experience in a musical, and he said he
never realized until this spring how much time and effort the musicians
in particular put into the production.
The orchestra organized just in time to accompany what both Nowik and
Wingard called fabulous voices in this years cast.
Martin Bakaris Younger Than Springtime just breaks
your heart wide open, Nowik said.
She was able to find students whose inner register matches each characters
vocal range to highlight each persons strengths, she said. She couldnt
find words for the vocal talent of Jennifer Gordon, who is performing
her first musical.
This girl is incredible, Nowik said. And I hate it when
they wait until theyre seniors.
For high school and McKinney School teachers who like to witness the other
talents of their students, the theater team has come up with a commemorative
tribute. Teachers are invited to come to the show, where they will be
gifted with a complimentary ticket for a front row seat, a flower lei,
a complimentary concession snack, and a dedication at the end of the show.
Parents, too, have provided integral support for the production, from
bringing dinners for the entire cast and crew during the last week of
rehearsals, to helping build the set, to sitting through rehearsals for
added adult supervision. Community businesses have donated a lot too,
Nowik said. Current Cuisine and The Winds each catered a dinner for the
students, and Youngs Jersey Dairy catered the Easter feast. Pangaea
lent the troupe a large bronze Buddha figure as a prop.
The three- to four-month long cooperative effort of the disparate group
of students and community members that make the spring musical happen
every year is not always evident in the production itself. But the performance
promises to be something to see, and the reasons go way beyond opening
Tickets may be reserved by calling 767-9280.