Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre's sixth season is now underway at the Firehouse Arts Center with a sparkling new production of "South Pacific," the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical featuring classics such as "Younger Than Springtime" and "Some Enchanted Evening."
After today's Sunday matinee performance, the actors will participate in an "Inside the Show" discussion with the audience, free with the price of admission to the show.
Set against the dramatic background of an idyllic South Pacific island during World War II, the story intertwines the themes of romance, duty and prejudice for a story that is hilarious, heartbreaking and thought-provoking.
"What draws me as a director to this musical is that the story being told is layered with a real moral conflict that audiences can relate to today," director Joy Sherratt said.
The musical is based on the anecdotes of a real-life U.S. Navy commander who was himself stationed on a remote island. It follows two intercultural love stories: Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with Emile, a French plantation owner on the island who has two children from his late Polynesian wife, while U.S. Lt. Cable falls for a beautiful island native named Liat.
Both Americans find themselves struggling to reconcile their cultural prejudices with their hearts' desires, all the while under the dark cloud of a war that is coming ever closer to their little paradise.
"To fall in love completely challenges and changes the way one thinks," Sherratt said. "And the Firehouse is the perfect intimate space to tell this tale."
Sherratt, who is co-founder of Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre, and directs and choreographs the production, said the lush musical score might just be Rodgers and Hammerstein's best.
Musical direction is by Rachel Robinson, scenic designs by Pat Brandon, lighting design by Mike Oesch and costumes by Margaret daSilva.
Starring in the leading roles of Emile de Becque and Nellie Forbush are professional actors Joshua Hollister and Brandy Collazo.
Hollister has studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he received a bachelor's degree in music with honors in opera performance.
Collazo was last seen on the Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre stage as Kathy Selden in "Singin' in the Rain."
Love in paradise
What: "South Pacific"
Who: Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 22
Where: Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave.
Tickets: $18-$39; youth, senior and group discounts are available. Purchase online at www.firehousearts.org, by phone at 931-4848 or in person at the box office.