Many people go to the theatre to experience the essence of the stage performance, to view the costumes, to see the choreography, the unveiling of a story, to engage in the allurement of the subtle and obvious lessons presented by the producers, directors, and writers. The production can leave an imprint that stays with you long after the show is over.
Much of the framework that is meticulously created is the genius of individual innovative master minds dressed in black and white in the pit of the stage. These gems paint beauty through the musical score that takes one beyond anything happening on the stage.
Musicians positioned in the pit of the orchestra, set the scene of elation, doom, trepidation, triumph, sweetness, anger, pleasure, surprise, peace, turmoil, tragedy, laughter, tears, darkness and grief, dawn and sunrise. They tell the saga without words that only a few can understand, while expressing feelings, language, and union that includes the five senses and beyond. Their voice can and does reach every section of any theatre.
This was the encounter given by the orchestra of the opening performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific" at the Ahmanson Theatre on May 27th, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA.
Conducted by Lawrence Goldberg, the musicians provided a warm exquisiteness dusted with angelic hints. The score of music had precise correlation with the story and performers on stage while providing an intense contrast that was intriguing throughout the night.
Erin Hill on Harp gave a pleasing air as Cliff Hulling on Percussion, Vladimir Polimaridi, Francine Walsh, Jennifer Choi, Mark Cargill, Sally Berman on Violin, Diane Gilbert, Harry Shirinian on Viola, Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, and Miguel Martinez on Cello all added indivdual accents and artistry. Ken Wild on Bass provided an arresting pulsation - amalgamated, untarnished and satisfying.
The Brass component consisted of Chris Eble, Daniel Fornero, Marissa Benedict on Trumpet, Robert Payne, Craig Ware on Trombone, Joe Meyer, Paul Klintworth on French horn. Individually the caliber of musicianship presented was magical. Through the evening each provided precisely what was needed to highlight the production.
What words can accurately articulate the Woodwind section of this very engaged orchestra? They are in genre that's all to be marveled. This group of musicians took us to moments of absolute elation.
Patricia Cloud on Flute and Piccolo and Jonathan Davis was on Oboe.
Phil O' Connor and Steven Roberts were on other Woodwinds.
The resonance, intonation, intensity, color, and depth that Patricia Cloud presented on Flute and Piccolo was matchless. I found myself awaiting her solos with anticipation and other audience members around me were doing the same. There is a hauntingly glorious sound Ms. Cloud shares that captures one into the essence of the music, scenery, and musical.
Ms. Cloud's musicality and innovative sound is all encompassing and her very own.
Jonathan Davis on Oboe is a force of beautiful exhilaration denoting a perceptive artistry. Mr. Davis possesses profoundness in every passage he plays, always linking with the moment.
Impeccable space and timing were given to each piece of music and attention to the vocalist throughout the reflective story that is set in a time of war in the U.S. in the 1940-50's. The selections and theatrical show offered themes on racial, cultural, generational, gender and sexual challenges which to our present day are cause for quandary and ignorance.
The story moves in a harmonious fashion that includes humor and sadness. It is the romantic account of 2 different couples whose lives become connected through the war. The culmination was a bittersweet fragrance as is often true of daily life.
Rod Gilfry acts as the handsome plantation owner - Emile de Becque and Carmen Cusack as Ensign Nellie Forbush, the woman with whom he falls in love. Anderson Davis is Lt. Joseph Cable, soldier that falls in a love affair forbidden only by the sad prejudices of his lineage, environment and mind.
Liat is the beautiful daughter played by Sumie Maeda. She is the daughter of”Bloody Mary" played by Keala Settle who is a local woman acts as a saleswoman of various unusual souvenirs.
The vocalist performers in the story superbly vocalize the tale in a manner that is contemplative, candid and enduring.
The orchestra however began and sealed the performance that made for a great adventure in music and theatre.
I highly recommend this performance to anyone and everyone interested in a glorious musical and theatre encounter.
"South Pacific" runs at the Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles through July 17th 2010. Mark Taper Forum & Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Cente. www.centertheatregroup.org.
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
at the corner of North Grand Ave and West Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles.