“South Pacific” brings history-rich musical to Orem


Rodgers and Hammerstein’s colorful musical “South Pacific” has washed up on stage at Orem’s Hale Center Theater.

The performance, which opened Oct. 4 and will run Monday through Saturday until Nov. 24, is filled to the brim with comedy and lively music. The World War II-era musical explores issues surrounding romance, racism and war.[media-credit name=”Pete Widtfeldt” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Members of the “South Pacific” cast agreed that one of the greatest parts of being involved in the musical was the historical knowledge gained. Kelly Hennessey, who plays female lead character Ensign Nellie Forbush, enjoyed the chance to understand more about the history of the time period.

“One of my favorite parts of doing the show was learning more about World War II history and the people involved,” Hennessey said. “I loved being able to connect with real people as I understood more.”

The “South Pacific” storyline deals with love and loss, themes Hennessey connected with while in character.

“I would hope audiences take away a little more appreciation for people in their lives and the love they can share,” Hennessey said.

Emily Anderson, who plays Lieutenant Genevieve Marshall, also appreciated the connections “South Pacific” makes to historical events.

“The show is funny, but these things also really happened,” Anderson said. “We’ve had a chance to pay tribute to veterans from World War II.”

As cast members connect to historical events, they also have a chance to connect to audience members. The Hale Center Theater’s main stage is surrounded on three sides by rows of seating very close to where the actors perform. This intimate layout provides the opportunity for front-row audience members to literally feel like they are a part of the story. Actors also utilize the aisles in the theater as they sing and dance.

Although this type of setting may be ideal for audience members, cast members have to adjust to the unique setup.

Elisa Smith, who plays eccentric islander Bloody Mary, said learning to maneuver the stage took practice.

“The most challenging part of doing the show was learning to work in the space and be so close to the audience,” Smith said. “But it has been amazing working with this cast. Every single member of this show is equally as talented. This is definitely the most talented group I have ever worked with.”

Dallyn Bayles, who plays the male lead Emile de Becque, said he also loved working with the “South Pacific” cast.

“Everyone is so open and natural and talented when they perform,” Bayles said. “I especially loved working with Kelly and Brittany (who also plays Ensign Nellie Forbush), because they’re such amazing actresses and singers.”

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