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Going back for seconds

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By Ken Begley

I don’t normally do this.

But I think I ought to in this case.

I normally never repeat a review of a play being performed by the Central Kentucky Theatre group at the Opera House in Springfield.

However, I wanted to add a second column to that recommendation for the current “South Pacific” performance I made last week, telling you it would be a good show.

I was wrong.

It’s not a really good show.

No, it’s a fantastic show.

I’m still left speechless at the quality of the show after seeing its first run last weekend to a sold-out house of 200.

If this were a sporting event, it would be the equal of the WCHS baseball, basketball and football teams going all the way to state and winning.

It’s that great.

You see, normally I’ll go into the theater for a couple of hours while the acting troupe is still rehearsing different scenes of the show. I’ll write my column at that point, after getting a general feel for how the show is going to go.

But this time I really underestimated.

A great actor with multiple awards was once asked what the secret of his success was. He said, “I go out and find the absolute best possible actors to surround myself with to do every movie. They make me look good and that‘s why I win awards.”

That’s what is going on here.

Sara Thompson is the lead and belts out song after song like the late, great Ethel Merman of Broadway fame. She adds to that an acting ability that has you believing she really is a nurse on a South Pacific island during World War II. She has sad times and happy times, and you feel it all.

Mark Grider is playing a conman sailor where he has the audience rolling in the aisles with his lines. Where there are supposed to be laughs, there are laughs, and he gets most of them in the play. Comedy is hard, but Mark just gets better and better at it. His singing voice is nothing to sneeze at, either. It’s clear and distinct with a real manly quality to it.

Noah Hutchins has also taken a small part and made it a comedic standout during the “Honey Bun” scene. I don’t want to spoil it by telling you what it is.

The costumes by Cyndi Mattingly and her crew are incredible. The sound crew, the lighting crew and the stage crew have also done wonders for this play with everything fitting together like a tight glove.

The show stopper of the play has to be Adria Whitfill playing an island woman wheeler dealer called “Bloody Mary” who knows how to make a fast buck off dumb Marines and sailors. She is extremely funny in the part, especially as she strolls down the theater aisle trying to sell souvenirs before she hits the stage. But when Adria sings a solo of “Bali Ha’i” it is anything but funny.

The whole theater was entranced during the popular and moving Broadway show tune. Where did this kid come from?

There’s also another reason I did a second column. One of these days, one of the guys or gals in this program is going to hit it big in the movies or television. We’re then going to have to make room in the football quarterback Phil Simms Museum for (insert name here), who began their career at the Opera House in Springfield, Ky.

So to ensure that I will be able to say I gave them their first mention in the paper for acting, let me congratulate Gwen Campbell, Seth Carrico, Steven Cox, Megan Diersing, Ryan Diersing, Carrie Fowler, Mark Grider, Hannah Harmon, Seth Herald, Craig Holmes, Gaubrie Humphress, Matthew Hutchins, Noah Hutchins, Jordan Lake, Kayta Melgoza, Marianne Melgoza, Joseph Mattingly, Gillian Mudd, Sara Thompson, Jonathan Wheeler, Adria Whitfill, Presley Wilson and my own daughter, Jenny Begley, for a show that is funny, moving and extremely well-done.

(Writer’s note: The Central Kentucky Community Theatre Youth Actors will present “South Pacific” at the Opera House June 5-7 (Thursday through Saturday) at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at The Opera House, Springfield State Bank, U.S. Bank and in Lebanon at Farmers National Bank. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.centralkytheatre.com or call 859-336-5412 ext. 4 for more ticket information.)