Happy Talk about a happy show

South Pacific by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein at Colchester Mercury until tonight.The great thing about Richard and Oscar is that you always come out humming their tunes.

David Henshall

South Pacific by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein at Colchester Mercury until Feb 2.

The great thing about Richard and Oscar is that you always come out humming their tunes. This is not their best musical because it is not easy to stage - to get the flow right - but the great numbers keep coming one after another and audiences love it, especially the tear-laden, schmaltzy ending.

This show also has two special requirements: a really good Nellie Forbush, the simple, sparky nurse from Little Rock, and somebody who can really sing the role of her lover, the older, worldly French planter, Emile de Becque. And Colchester Operatic has got this absolutely right.


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Graine Ivell is a bright, winsome Nellie who takes hold of her songs right from the start, commands the stage and has particular fun with Honey Bun, the best production number of the night. And she holds her own against the powerful voice of John Davies as Emile.

You don't find too many like him. His bass-baritone is rich, round and extremely melodic and his delivery of Some Enchanted Evening and This Nearly Was Mine had the big first-night crown enthralled.

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Kevin Richard has a lot of fun as Luther Billis, comedian and navy scrounger-in-chief with a tough exterior and heart of gold. Well almost. Jamie Fillery sings well and gets bumped off heroically as Lt Joe Cable and Lydia Clough's makes the most of Bloody Mary in Bali Ha'i and Happy Talk.

The choral singing is first class in a show that sometimes lacks a little co-ordinated fizz and is occasionally a bit static, but it is reasonable to expect it to pick up a bit of steam as the run goes on.

The very beige set, too, could do with a few more splashes of colour and their South Sea island sometimes needs a few more rays of bright sunshine. But this is still a good night out for musical fans and the orchestra is excellent.

David Henshall.

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