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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 7, 2011

South Pacific makes for Some Enchanted Evening

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Hilltown theatergoers will get a history lesson at Berne-Knox-Westerlo this weekend, but they won’t get it in the classroom.

South Pacific, a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, will be showing at the high school on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“It’s set in the late 1940s, revolving around World War II, and it’s a love story between one of the head nurses and a French plantation owner that lives on the island of Bali,” said teacher Coriellen Travis of the play. In addition to directing the play, Travis was responsible for musical direction, costume design, and nearly all other aspects of production. Elementary Principal Brian Corey, a former music teacher, will be conducting from the pit.

Travis went on, “There’re controversial issues between the Tonkinese people falling in love with white people, but, in the end, love prevails.”

Indeed, it prevails twice: Emile de Beque, the plantation owner, falls in love with Ensign Nellie Forbush. DeBeque is played by Akeem Stewart, and Forbush by Rebekah Richardson.

Then there’s Joseph Cable, a lieutenant from the United States Marines, played by Vincent Pasquini. Cable falls in love with a Tonkinese woman named Liat, played by Keely Duffney.

But, when picking her show, Travis based her selection not on the play’s story, but on the opportunities it presented her students.

“I’m very lucky to have tons of boys in our school that are interested in doing musicals — and great at it,” said Travis. “I have seniors that are very strong as far as girls, and a large group of small junior girls that I knew I had coming up, and the characters in this show just fit who I had.”

Donations of clothing from the World War II era bring a certain authenticity to the production, she said.

“It’s about looking past racial barriers to find love,” Travis concluded, “and it’s taught me and the kids more about World War II than we ever knew.”


South Pacific will run at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo middle-high school auditorium at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. Regular tickets are $8; it’s $7 for seniors and students; and $6 for children 12 and under.

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