"South Pacific" - by Rodgers and Hammerstein - Reagle Music Theatre (Waltham, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "SOUTH PACIFIC" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MAthrough June 23, 2024Photo Credit: Bob Pascucci)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“You've got to taught to hate & fear. You've got to taught from year to year. It's got to drummed in your dear little ear. You've got to be carefully taught."  

                                      - ("Lt. Joseph Cable") / Rodgers and Hammerstein

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston  

Presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's 


Book by Joshua Logan, Oscar Hammerstein II 

Music by Richard Rodgers Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone

Music Director David Coleman

Cast Includes: Jennifer Ellis* as “Nellie Forbush,” Christopher Chew* as “Emile de Becque,” Lisa Yuen* as “Bloody Mary,” Blake Du Bois as “Lt. Joseph Cable,” Calico Velasco as “Liat,” Brendan McGrady* as  “Luther Billis,” Mark Szpak as “Cmdr. William Harbison,” Rick Sherburne as “Capt. George Brackett,” Christopher Lewis as “Professor,” Johnny Gordon as “Stewpot,” Kai Chao* as “Henry,” Penelope Rhoads as “Ngana,” Lola Rhoads as “Jerome” Ensemble: Timothy Bevens, Holly Bourdon, Laura Degraw, Teddy Edgar, Emily Fortunato, Sammy Janoff, Mike Jubak Jr., Kaylee Kay, Christopher Mcintyre, Ally Anna Mclean, Anthony Morgante, Jessica Nichter, Willy Nelson, Ryan Rappaport, Howie Reith, Miranda Slingluff, Yi-Hui Wu.

Additional Creative Team:

Producer - Jay Pension; Prod. Stage Manager - Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez*;  Asst. Stage Manager - Vanessa C. Hart; Production Assistants: Emma Ross, Madison Flynn; Company Manager - Erica Jurus; Associate Director - Sophie Pratt; Associate Music Director - Mindy Cimini; Associate Choreographer - Alexa Wang; Assistant Choreographer - Jessica Nichter;  Orchestra Contractor - Jeff Leonard; Intimacy Director - Angie Jepson; Dramaturg - Sarah Gruber; Equity Diversity and Inclusion Consultant - Kira Troilo; Cultural Consultant - Jude Torres; Dance Captain - Jennifer Ellis*; Intimacy Captain - Miranda Slingluff; Technical Director - Lori E. Baruch; Set Construction - New England Scenic; A2 - Ryan Pereira; Costumes Construction - Emerald City Theatrical; Wardrobe Supervisor - Ashley Rabon; Stitchers: Olivia Lancellotta, Raegan White; Wig Supervisor - Michelle Moran; Run Crew: Adam Assarian, Valerie Molina, Seray Kauffman, Isaac Ferguson Cucchi; Master Electrician - Craig Robertson; Electrics Crew: Sophie Boucher, Larry Dysart, Martina Grein, Sebastian Nixon, Ryan Pereira, Adam Post, Karen Rogers, Crystal VanArtsdalen; Follow-Spot Operators: Roz Umbrell, Robert Crisafulli, Emma Ross; Summer Intern - Sarah Gordon-Macey

*Appears through the courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States


June 14, 2024 through June 23, 2024

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)

Robinson Theatre, REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE, 617 Lexington St. Waltham, MA 02452



By Phone # 781-891-5600

Box Office Window:  Located under the Reagle Music Theatre marquee at Waltham High School. Box Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:00am until 4:00pm 


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

Reagle Music Theatre gives us a veritable tidal wave of talent in its latest production of the iconic musical "SOUTH PACIFIC."

The engaging musical, composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and featuring a book by both Hammerstein and Joshua Logan, would ultimately be honored with the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

A majority of the musical’s standout numbers, songs such as "Bali Ha'I,"Some Enchanted Evening," "There Is Nothing Like a Dameand more have gone on to become popular standards and, thanks to this spectacular Reagle cast, supported by a phenomenal live orchestra, it is easy to see why. 

The story of the show is based on elements from the 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by James A. Michener’s “Tales of the SOUTH PACIFIC" 

Not only did Rodgers and Hammerstein ultimately craft a musical that was a hit, they also gave us a story that resonates still today with its strongly-embedded lessons regarding the subject of racism. 

Hitting Broadway in 1949 (only four years after the war with Japan ended) "SOUTH PACIFIC" was an immediate hit, running for 1,925 performances, becoming the second-longest running Broadway musical to that point (right behind Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943’s “OKLAHOMA!” 

"SOUTH PACIFIC" would ultimately win 10 Tony Awards, including awards for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Libretto.   

The show is also credited with being the only musical ever to win Tony Awards in all four acting categories (lead and supporting).   

The 2008 Broadway revival would also run for a respectable 996 performances, winning seven Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical

Now, as staged under the direction and choreography of Rachel Bertone supported by the music direction of David Coleman, Reagle Music Theatre's production of "SOUTH PACIFIC" hits all the right notes. 

(Photo: Christopher Chew as “Emile de Becque” sits across from Jennifer Ellis as “Nellie,” with Penelope Rhoads as “Ngana” and Lola Rhoads as “Jerome” look on in a scene from "SOUTH PACIFIC" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MAthrough June 23, 2024Photo Credit: Bob Pascucci)

After the resonating “Overture, as played to perfection by the Reagle orchestra, the story of "SOUTH PACIFIC" centers on young American nurse, Nellie Forbush (Jennifer Ellis) who, during World War II, is stationed on a remote “SOUTH PACIFIC” island. 

Ellis is deliciously fiery as the naïve young Nellie, vibrant in her numbers which include “A Cockeyed Optimist” and  I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair." 

While the story does not really explore her background more, Ellis seems to “fill in the gaps” with certain reactions to events as they happen, which perhaps gives some in the audience something new to consider as they occur. 

Nellie meets and falls in love with older expatriate French plantation owner, Emile de Becque (Christopher Chew), a widower raising his mixed-race children. 

Chew presents Emile as strong, resilient, seasoned but with a youthful exuberance whenever around Nellie. 

If the “May/December romance” of Emile and Nellie (quite common a device back during this particular era of stories) is no longer considered “viable” by today’s standards, both Chew and Ellis still give it their best effort. 

Yet, at no time does Nellie ever come across as a person in need of a father figure in a boyfriend (aka “daddy issues”). 

Nellie loves Emile for the man he is, but is about to learn more about the man than she ever could have imagined. 

While some may deride the age discrepancy, there is no disputing the magnificent performance by Chew as he renders the songs "Some Enchanted Evening" and "This Nearly Was Mine." 

(Photo: Jennifer Ellis as young American nurse, Nellie Forbush, surrounded by members of the CAST of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "SOUTH PACIFIC" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MAthrough June 23, 2024Photo Credit: Bob Pascucci)

The powerful supporting ensemble of servicemen and women provide some much-needed amusement and distractions as the subjects of war and racism permeate most of the show’s libretto. 

We are introduced to the bored and edgy American Seabees, enlisted men who have been expressly forbidden by naval regulations to fraternize with the island’s Navy nurses who are commissioned officers. 

The above collective frustration is clearly demonstrated through the exhilarating Reagle musical numbers, "Bloody Mary" and "There Is Nothing Like a Dame." 

The Seabees all follow the lead of their con man comrade-in-arms, Luther Billis (Brendan McGrady), whose dirty deals are the only things keeping the men sane on the island. 

McGrady is hysterically funny as the gruff, manipulative Billis, who is in cahoots/competition with a civilian woman on the island, nicknamed "Bloody Mary" (Lisa Yuen). 

Yuen is comedy gold as Bloody Mary, the spirited older Tonkinese vendor of grass skirts and other island trinkets.

Then, as if turning on a dime, she becomes more subdued during pivotal moments, especially as she renders one of the most memorable songs in the score, “Bali Hai. 

(Photo:  Lisa Yuen as “Bloody Mary”  in a scene from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "SOUTH PACIFIC" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MAthrough June 23, 2024Photo Credit: Bob Pascucci)

U.S. Marine, Lt. Joseph Cable (Blake Du Bois), has just landed on the island after serving at Guadalcanal

Cable has arrived because he has been given a heavily clandestine reconnaissance mission to a Japanese-held island which, if successful, might help win the war against Japan

However, Cable will need help from Emile since de Becque used to live on the island where the mission will take place. 

Du Bois gives a solid performance as Cable, providing a tender vocal performance in the emotional, "Younger Than Springtime."

Nellie is asked to help Cable and his superior officers learn more about Emile's rather ambiguous background and political leanings. 

What Nellie does not anticipate is becoming so deeply involved with Emile and is stunned when he introduces her to his mixed-race children. 

There is a similar subplot romance between Cable who becomes instantly involved upon meeting Bloody Mary’s daughter, Liat (Calico Velasco). 

As Cable, Du Bois is hardy and steadfast, but he, too, just like Nellie, must do a deep dive in his soul searching of the social consequences should he marry Liat, which he confides to de Becque in the scathingly honest and abrasive song, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught." 

(Photo: Blake Du Bois as “Lt. Joseph Cable” in a scene from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "SOUTH PACIFIC" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MAthrough June 23, 2024Photo Credit: Bob Pascucci)

While no strangers to controversy throughout their historic musical collaborations, the subject matter of this one song is a blatant “in your face” moment that elevates the entire story - all thanks to the flagrantly direct lyrical approach taken by Rodgers and Hammerstein

According to a  Reagle press release, in the 2008 Lincoln Center revival, director Bartlett Sher combed through earlier drafts of the show's libretto and chose to restore some original lines that were considered too risky - including Nellie referring to Emile‘s late wife as “colored” and Cable saying his family back in Philadelphia will disown him if he brings home Liat, an Asian woman.

Overall, the recurring themes in "SOUTH PACIFIC" are well represented and with great sensitivity and care, especially in the approach taken to Pacific Islanders characters in the casting of Jerome (Lola Rhoads), Ngana (Penelope Rhoads), Henry (Kai Chao), Bloody Mary (Lisa Yuen) and Liat (Calico Velasco). 

One minor quibble on the approach taken to the character of Cable – at some point someone (perhaps even R&H as scripted) thought it would be a good idea if Cable “chain smokes” – even smoking after recovering from a bout of malaria. This really does not work for the character. 

(Photo: The CAST of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "SOUTH PACIFIC" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MAthrough June 23, 2024Photo Credit: Bob Pascucci)

Overall, costumes were colorful and perfectly representative of the time period, although a couple of the higher ranking officers uniforms seemed ill fitted to the actors. 

The set design for the musical is extremely clever - serving not only a visual treat depicting this isolated tropical island, but serving structurally, allowing for completely fluid transitions from beginning to end. 

Throughout the course of this powerful musical story, Nellie’s personal brand of faith - her self-professed “cockeyed optimism” - is put to an excruciating test.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's "SOUTH PACIFIC" continues at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. through June 23, 2024.

Coming up next at the Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. will be the rockin' musical, "ALL SHOOK UP" by Joe DiPietro beginning July 12th, 2024.

For tickets or more information, check out Reagle Music Theatre by visiting them online at https://www.reaglemusictheatre.org/ or by calling them at # 781-891-5600.   

Approximately two hours, 40 minutes with one intermission.  

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)




Set against the dramatic background of an idyllic South Pacific island during WWII, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s "SOUTH PACIFIC" intertwines the themes of romance, duty, and prejudice to create a story that is all at once hilarious, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. 

Based on the anecdotes of a real-life U.S. Navy commander who was stationed on an island, the musical 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; 

At the same time, U.S. Lieutenant Cable falls for a beautiful island native named Liat. 

Both Americans find themselves struggling to reconcile their own cultural prejudices with their amorous feelings, all the while under the dark cloud of a war that is coming ever closer to their island paradise. (STAGEAGENT)  


REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE OF GREATER BOSTON's mission is to present the highest quality of musical theatre productions by combining talented regional performers with professional performers and technicians, thus providing an unusual learning experience for its regular members and more enjoyable experiences for its audiences. REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE is committed to using the skills of its company to strengthen and enhance teaching and learning in the Waltham Public Schools by educating youth to the joys of theatre, and by using theatre techniques to enhance learning in other curriculum areas. Our offerings include musicals, concerts, revues, educational programming, New York theatergoing trips, and more.


617 Lexington Street

Waltham, MA 02452

PHONE: 781-891-5600

FAX: 781-701-0750