South Pacific Venice Theatre
Review by Dave O’Sullivan
Recently I had the opportunity to see the stage production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, South Pacific at the beautiful Venice theatre in Venice, Florida. At first glance the theatre looks a tad small, but when you enter you are surprised to see a much larger world filled with a rich and long theatre history. The acoustics of the building and its design are perfect for any production, but the coziness and location are what is at the heart of the Venice Theatre. Upon taking my seat, I was swept away to the far-off south pacific thanks to Tim Wisgerhof, the resident scenic designer and his scenery crew. Heck, I swear I could smell the hibiscus.
Once the stage lights came on, I was reminded of how great this musical is and why it has endured for seventy years. This classic has spawned songs that have seeped into our consciousness and even snuck into jingles for TV commercials, proving the endurance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s colossal talents.
From the moment that Nellie (Sarah Cassidy) meets and falls for Emile (Joseph Giglia) and Lieutenant Cable (Brian Rudolph) becomes smitten with Liat (Ariella Corinne Pizarro Daniel) you can feel their tangled emotions within your own stomach. Every actor on stage is worth noting but one unique stand-out is Bloody Mary (played by Candace Artim) who never had any formal vocal training, and that lack of training clicked perfectly into her role. The hilarity of Luther Billis (Jeff Sima) and his obsession with Bali Ha’i along with the rest of the sailors and their pining for a dame gave great comic relief to the ill-fated couple’s stories.
But I personally feel the best part of South Pacific is its timeless message of love and tolerance that will hopefully never fall out of fashion. Maybe on it’s one hundredth anniversary people can watch the production and ponder how silly and antiquated prejudice was as they enjoy the sights and sounds of a far-off tropical island and it’s love-hungry residents. We only wish we could have gotten to see it sooner.
Venice Theatre – 140 Tampa Ave. W, Venice, FL. 34285 Box Office (941) 488-1115 https://venicestage.com/