Some enchanted evening: South Pacific

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By Ken Begley

I love this job.

I get to meet so many interesting people who all have stories that fascinate me from the young to the old.

This week, it’s the young, and none are more interesting than the Central Kentucky Theatre’s Youth Actors troupe, now performing the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical from 1949.

The musical was originally based on parts of various stories in a Pulitzer Prize-winning book called “Tales of the South Pacific” by James A. Michener.

South Pacific ran for 1,925 performances and won 10 Tony Awards along with a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The songs produced for the musical include “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Going To Wash That Man Right Outa my Hair,” “Bali Ha’I” and “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” along with another 13 incredible songs.

But a great show is just writing on a piece of paper without some great actors and I think the Central Kentucky Theatre has rounded up most of them from three different counties.

The show centers on Ensign Nurse Nellie Forbush (Sara Thompson) of the U.S. Navy, who is stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II.

She falls in love with a middle-aged widower and French plantation owner, Emile de Becque (Craig Holmes), who lives on the island. She is happy and helplessly head over heels for this guy. It’s only when she meets his children that she is stunned to see they are of mixed race. She did not know his wife had been a native woman from the island. Nellie has to do a lot of soul searching to see if her love for the man will extend to the children that are of his heart but not of his color. The play was highly controversial 64 years ago, and that is mostly forgotten. That’s something that most people today realize as we only remember it for its songs, funny moments and the tender ones as well.

Sara Thompson is an old hand with the Youth Actors and she is all that and a bag of chips when it comes to being Nurse Nellie. She’s so good at her part that you will live through all her funny and touching moments as the play progresses. Sara sure has grown with the program down there at the Opera House.

A relative newcomer to the acting troupe, but not to acting itself, is the leading man, Craig Holmes, from Chaplain. This is his second play at the Opera House and about his 13th all together. I believe he said he was a senior at Nelson County High and hopes to pursue acting when he goes off to college. He got into acting because a friend wanted to try it and convinced him to come along. The acting bug bit him and the rest is history. Craig said the one part of acting that amazes him is that shy people will step onto the stage and suddenly transform into characters that are brash and outgoing at the drop of a hat.

Another old hand in this play is Gwennie Campbell (Lt. Dinah Murphy), a sophomore at WCHS. Her older sister, Charlotte, and brother, Wesley, all joined the theater group when it was first formed many years ago. This triple threat group of siblings can do it all, but Gwen really wowed them with her leading lady role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a few months back.

She’s got this excellent voice that has been developed over many plays, combined with an ability to transform herself into any role that you give her. She told me the best part of the theater is there are no cliques or separate groups. Everyone is like a great big happy family making friends that will last a lifetime. Her saddest moment comes when seniors leave the group, especially when her brother left last year and went on to UofL.

A new member to the group is Adria Whitfill (Bloody Mary) who is a sophomore at MCHS. Adria is a beautiful young lady with a sparkling personality that is even prettier than she is. Music is ingrained in her blood from her father’s side of the family. He has a unique calling in life as a craftsman producing custom guitars, including one for country music singer Vince Gill. Adria has been singing for as long as she can remember. She first sang in public at the Lebanon Baptist Church where she continues to sing today. Her favorite song from church is “I Surrender.” Keep an eye out for her in this play. I only got to hear a small piece of one of her songs, but she sure sounded like a “keeper” to me.

So what do we have to do folks?

We need to take a long ocean voyage to the blue waters of the South Pacific for “Some Enchanting Evening” and forget all our problems for a couple of hours.

You won’t regret it.

Writer’s note: The Central Kentucky Community Theatre Youth Actors will present “South Pacific” at the Opera House on Saturday May 31 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 1 at 2 p.m. The week after there will be shows at 7:00 pm on 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, The Springfield State Bank, U.S. Bank and in Lebanon at the Farmers National Bank. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.centralkytheatre.com or call 859-336-5412 ext. 4 for more ticket information.