VISTA — Moonlight Stage Productions opened its summer season with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and a new artistic director, Steven Glaudini.
“South Pacific” centers around two intertwining love stories between French expatriate Emile de Becque and navy nurse Nellie Forbush as well as Lt. Joseph Cable and Tonkinese maiden Liat. The dual romances take place on a South Pacific island during World War II and are threatened by the tides of racism and war.
Fresh from playing Belle on a national tour of “Beauty and the Beast,” Hilary Maiberger carried the show on her shoulders as the naive Nellie. Though her presence on stage for a brief moment seemed somewhat unremarkable, she seized the show the second she began to sing a most glorious, “When,” the very first word of her opening song, “A Cockeyed Optimist.”
Clear of his ghoulish make up from last season’s “Sweeney Todd,” Randall Dodge commands the stage as the passionate Emile, once again melting Moonlight audiences with his unparalleled baritone.
The show’s 28-piece orchestra should also be credited for the show’s liveliness as it beautifully mastered Richard Rodgers’ score.
Sets and costumes from the 2008 Tony Award-winning Lincoln Center revival sparkled onstage and helped bring the South Pacific to the Moonlight’s stage.
Though the musical is 64 years old and having first opened in 1949, the talented cast, full-bodied orchestra, and eye-catching costumes and sets click perfectly for another enchanted evening.
And such was Glaudini’s goal.
“I wanted to wipe the dust off a classic and breathe some life into it,” he said about choosing “South Pacific” as the opener for his first season.
Though Glaudini has long frequented the Moonlight as an actor and director, most recently directing the superb “Sweeney Todd” last summer, he assumed the role of artistic director at the beginning of 2013. His predecessor, Kathy Brombacher, was the founder of Moonlight Stage Productions and served as artistic director for 33 years.
He said he felt that “South Pacific” lends itself well to the North County community, both as a well-loved Broadway classic but also as a war story.
“What people forget is that this really is a war story…I hope to surprise people by showing them and bringing this story front and center. I want people to go in and think, ‘I had no idea (South Pacific) brought those issues front and center. All I remember is, ‘I’m in love with a wonderful guy,’ and all I remember is Nellie washing her hair on stage,’” Glaudini said.
“South Pacific” will run at the Moonlight Amphitheatre from June 26 to July 13. Visit moonlightstage.com for more information.
Moonlight Stage Production’s 2013 summer season will continue into October with “The Wizard of Oz,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “The Who’s Tommy.” Next year’s summer season will include “My Fair Lady,” “Mary Poppins,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” and “Catch Me If You Can.”