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An enchanted evening in the 'South Pacific'
A timeless musical marks the anniversary for one Port Angeles production group this week.
The Port Angeles Light Opera Association marks 30 years of producing Broadway shows and operettas in the area with the award-winning World War II-based musical “South Pacific,” running July 13-21 at the Port Angeles Center for the Performing Arts at Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave.
“It's a beautiful and important story,” director Olivia Shea said. “But the music is a big part of what it's all about.”
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical features popular songs like “Bali Ha'i,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” “Happy Talk” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”
Following a similar formula to its 1991 production, PALOA blends top songs with the topic of interracial relations, which remain relevant to this day.
Southern nurse Nellie Forbush, played by Sarah Shea, falls for plantation owner Emile DeBecque (Ron Graham) but she struggles with prejudices about his racially mixed children from a previous marriage. Similarly, Marine Lt. Joe Cable, played by Mark Lorentzen, travels as a spy to find love unexpectedly in a Tonkinese woman, Liat, played by Danielle Chamberlain. The couple experiences hardships of their own.
“There are a lot of underlying issues that people to need to see and talk about still,” Sarah Shea said.
Musical director Kristin Quigley Brye said this production is one of the all-time greatest musicals and that “Younger than Springtime,” a piece between Cable and Liat, is her favorite.
“Mark (Lorentzen) sings it beautifully,” she said.
Sequim natives Sarah and Olivia Shea take to the stage as actress and director for the first time with “South Pacific.”
They've appeared together in “Hello Dolly” and “Annie” and done multiple shows on their own, but Sarah said she's completely honored to be in the musical and has loved its music since a young age.
The same applies for being able to work under her mom's direction.
“I grew up watching (Olivia) direct and act,” Sarah said. “It's been a dream come true to be in one of her plays. She's a great director.”
Naturally, Olivia reciprocates her daughter's praise.
“She looks and sounds great,” Olivia said. “Running a show with 30 people is a lot of work but it's a lot of fun,” she said. “We're all volunteer and we wouldn't do this if it wasn't fun.”
Lil Tinsley takes the stage for the first time ever as an adult as the Tonkinese elder Bloody Mary, following the urging of her grandson Robert Stephens, a U.S. Navy Seabee in the production. She also shares the stage with her son-in-law Richard Stephens, who plays comedic relief Luther Billis.
Tinsley said the musical has deep roots for her.
“'South Pacific' has been a part of my family for a long time,” she said. “My children remember me singing 'Happy Talk' to them.”
In the musical, she plays a crucial role in setting up the romance between Liat and Cable. Tinsley said she's finding out Mary is a multifaceted person.
When asked about her nerves, Tinsley seemed unshaken, joking, “I'm surviving. I'm definitely looking forward to opening night."
Read more about the production at www.paloa.org.