by Kieran Tebben, senior, New Hope-Solebury High School
Last month Mask & Zany, the New Hope-Solebury High School theater club, put on a spectacular performance of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific.” Lead roles were played by seniors McKenzie Cloutier and Jess Bauer, sophomore Nick Cassidy and juniors Daniel Furst and Ben Natan, and they were accompanied by an expansive cast and crew from all grades.
The play takes place on a Polynesian island in the South Pacific where American Naval soldiers and miscellaneous sailors were stationed. Amidst love stories and such drama, questionable military practices ensue, killing senior Dalton Corr’s character, Lt. Joseph Cable, in the process.
Cloutier, starring as the main female lead, played southern nurse Nellie Forbush, who falls in love with the male lead, French plantation owner Emile De Becque, played by Natan. The two had their share of touching love songs (some that state they are in love many more times than needed,) but also faced serious issues that threatened to split the happy couple.
When Nellie found out about Emile’s biracial children from a previous marriage, she decides to “Wash that man right out of her hair,” singing a jazzy song perfect for Cloutier’s voice.
Bauer’s character Bloody Mary, serves as comic relief from the more serious love story or military operations. Selling grass skirts and other trinkets to soldiers stationed on the island, she shamelessly flirts with any “damn saxy” soldiers that come her way.
Bauer also introduces Bally High, a magical, mysterious island that beckons soldiers, with a slow, dreamy song that Bauer completely nailed. Her song was the best of the show, featuring her incredible vocal range and well-faked Polynesian accent.
Though the ending is a relatively happy one, as the two lovers predictably end up together, there are deaths and traumas along the way.
Corr’s character dies while on a military operation, leaving behind lovers in Philadelphia and Polynesia. His death causes viewers to question why he was cheating on his Philadelphia girlfriend with Laura Reinhart’s character, Liat, but the question is suspended as Kristina DeGiovanni, the Philadelphia girlfriend, mourns him in jazz standard “I’ll be seeing you (in all the old familiar places).”
As usual, the entire Mask & Zany cast and crew did an amazing job putting together the show. With fantastic accompaniment and acting, the show was a hit and possibly the best since “Fame” in 2011.