Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale welcomes 'South Pacific'
The stage at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale will turn into an island paradise this weekend, filled with Seabees, nurses and natives for the classic musical “South Pacific.”
The show opens tonight at 7:30 and runs Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
“I chose the show after talking to Bill Dreucci about a year ago. My mother loved this show and even though she has been dead for 10 years, I still think of her often,” said Martha Oliver of Scottdale, the play's co-director. “Bill had directed it four times, but had never played Emile and I proposed to him that he should do the role and that we could co-direct. He agreed. His voice is perfect for Emile.”
This classic musical, with music written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan, is based on James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book “Tales of the South Pacific.”
The story centers on a group of American sailors and Navy nurses stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Arkansas native Nellie Forbush, played by Katy Pretz, befriends and quickly falls for Emile de Becque, played by Dreucci, a French expatriate and plantation owner while Lt. Joe Cable, played by David Kiss, finds himself in a passionate affair with Liat, played by Anna Strauser, the young daughter of Bloody Mary, played by Joan McCann, the local grass-skirt peddler.
As the war against Japan escalates, reality sets in for both Forbush and Cable, who struggle to reconcile their unconventional love affairs with their long-held prejudices and insecurities.
Oliver said she feels the audience will enjoy the production.
“Our audiences are of an age when they will remember both World War II and this show, which premiered on Broadway in 1949,” she said. “The songs are so familiar, and the message, of tolerance and compassion, is still very important. I think we will have many folks who will want to see it.”
The large cast is multi-generational and features veteran actors who remember World War II, as well as young adults, teens and children.
“The cast is mainly young, although the great thing about community theater is we can have an age-appropriate cast, and we do. The young people can sing and dance these roles with great skill, even though they weren't familiar to them when they started,” Oliver said.
Taylor Robbins, 17, of Connellsville, will portray Nurse Lisa. This will be the first time Robbins will take the stage at the Geyer. She has performed in plays at Southmoreland Senior High School, including portraying the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland,” Dog in “Puss in Boots” and Nurse Janice in this past spring's “John Lennon and Me.”
Robbins said she is enjoying performing at the Geyer.
“I can be myself and I can be comfortable with everyone in the cast and just be appreciated, because the whole cast is comfortable with one another,” she said.
Ike Mason, who will be a theater major at Seton Hill University this fall, will portray Yeoman Herbert Quayle. Mason describes his character as similar to that of “Radar O'Reilly” of the hit movie and TV series “M*A*S*H.”
Mason said he feels the show will appeal to a wide range of people.
“It's family-oriented. People of all ages will be able to enjoy it,” he said. “It's very lighthearted and people will be laughing throughout, especially when Bloody Mary sings ‘Happy Talk.' She's a very flamboyant character and she really brings the show together.”
Tickets for the show are $12 and available online at www.geyerpac.com or by calling 724-887-0887. Dinner theater is available by calling Miss Martha's Tea Room 724-887-6574 for $25.
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.