The Windy Hill
MTC Performs South PacificFriday, March 30, 2012 By Ben Leistensnider
From March 1-3, the Methacton Theatre Company performed the Tony-winning musical ‘South Pacific’ by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is set on an island in the South Pacific during World War II, and follows the lives of American soldiers, nurses and natives on Bali Ha’i. The musical begins with Nellie Forbush, a new ensign on the island, originally from Little Rock, played by senior Caitlin Ort, becoming romantically interested in Emile de Becque, a wealthy French plantation owner played by senior Ryan Schrader. As the musical progresses, Lt. Joe Cable, a Marine played by sophomore Bo Sayre, arrives on the island with a secret mission to spy on the Japanese who were occupying a nearby area, but he ends up falling for a young girl named Liat from a neighboring island. Mrs. Welsh, the head of the drama program, was happy about the decision to perform ‘South Pacific’ for this year’s musical. ‘It went beautifully. We had the right voices for this. It was different in that it is an old-school musical comedy, and it was something a little lighter for the students’ experience.’ Ort agreed with Mrs. Welsh that the talent this year was suited for ‘South Pacific.’ ‘We rarely do Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. We had a perfect cast for it, and the show had a unique blend of comedy and drama that I think everyone really enjoyed. We have so many great actors here at Methacton that truly have a knack for comedy.’ Despite being comical, ‘South Pacific’ also has some important themes in it. ‘‘South Pacific’ is pure American musical theatre with its big song and dance numbers, but it also has a lot of heart and deals with many issues, such as racism,’ said junior Viktoria Falcone, who played Bloody Mary, a native to Bali Ha’i, and the mother of Liat. Many of the senior actors, despite being their last time performing at MHS, were happy with ‘South Pacific,’ and the characters they portrayed. ‘I’m so glad my last show with the MHS Theatre Company was ‘South Pacific’ because Nellie is such a fabulous role. Her songs are classics that everyone knows,’ said Ort. Senior Anthony Schulz, who played Luther Billis, a sailor who operated the local amenities on the island, said that it was fun portraying a character that he felt resembled his character in real life. ‘I had a lot of fun. I think that he related to me in real life a lot. Ms. Welsh told me to just be myself when portraying him. I was sad at the end, but I’m glad that we ended with a great show.’ Ms. Welsh said that the musical’s success was largely due to the hard work and dedication of the production staff, who helped make sure that everything got done. ‘The most difficult part of direction is finding the time to cover everything. The director is doing most everything: getting furniture and props, ordering costumes, and much more. This was a difficult show to produce, but we put it together in such a short amount of time. It’s delightful that I had a production staff bar none. It was like working in a professional or college setting.’ She was especially grateful to Ort, Schrader, junior Lucy Yin, and seniors Chris Miller, Beth Hromada and Ben Sattler for taking up major responsibilities in the musical. Ort, in addition to acting, also choreographed the musical. ‘I t is really difficult being the choreographer as well as being an actor. It takes a lot of patience and hard work, but it definitely pays off. I've always been extremely passionate about choreographing, so while it was very labor instensive, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to perform and work behind the scenes.’ Schrader had a dual role in this production as well. ‘ Directing and performing a play can prove to very challenging at times. Last year, I was only in the ensemble, so it was much easier to manage than this year; when I need to juggle directing and performing a leading role. I was able to rehearse my part on the stage and then run back to the director’s table to help the other actors work on their parts.’ Yin headed the set crew, which created the elaborate set, including a sand dune made out of paper mache. Yin and her crew spent countless hours painting, stenciling, and constructing in order to make the set look flawless. Welsh praised Miller for stepping up in the tech department of the theatre company, helping to adjust and put gels in the lights and setting up a projector which was used to create an aqueous feeling on stage. She also praised Hromada, who was the stage manager. She helped organize and oversee the placement of different props on stage, in addition to bringing in or creating some of the props. She also thanked Sattler for his help in fixing broken props and bringing in bamboo that was used on stage, saving the company money. ‘If something was broken, then you would see Ben over there fixing it. During one performance, we thought one of the wheels on the shower was broken, and Ben and Beth were both there fixing it up.’ ‘I know I will miss everyone next year, but I have so many funny and genuine memories of our experiences together. I cannot wait to support them in the future and see what they do next year. I’m leaving a very talented bunch,’ said Schrader.