WEATHER »
“It was quite radical in 1949 to understand that racism is a social construct,” said Katharine Farmer, who is directing the Rubicon Theatre’s new production of the Pulitzer Prize–winning musical. Opened on Broadway just four years after WWII, it focuses on its characters’ internal battles to rise above the prejudices of their society.

Courtesy Photo

“It was quite radical in 1949 to understand that racism is a social construct,” said Katharine Farmer, who is directing the Rubicon Theatre’s new production of the Pulitzer Prize–winning musical. Opened on Broadway just four years after WWII, it focuses on its characters’ internal battles to rise above the prejudices of their society.


A Stunning ‘South Pacific’

Rubicon Ends Season with Powerful Play


No holiday-season fluff at the Rubicon Theatre this year: The Ventura company is ending its season with a powerful staging of South Pacific. This Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of American sailors during World War II, and the islanders whose lives they uproot, seamlessly mixes the sublime and the silly; stories of cross-cultural romance are leavened with cross-dressing humor. Katharine Farmer’s beautifully paced production reveals both how well-constructed it is, and how its themes continue to resonate.

A superb cast of singing actors, under the musical direction of Brent Crayon, reliably conveys the intense emotions behind Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless songs. As French exile Emile De Becque, Ben Davis gives a gorgeous, emotionally raw rendition of “This Nearly Was Mine.” As the increasingly fragile Lt. Joe Cable, Alex Nee practically spits out the lyrics of “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught,” that angry ode to how we pass down our prejudices from one generation to the next. Best of all, Madison Claire Parks is movingly conflicted as the openhearted but narrow-minded nurse Nellie Forbush. She and Davis have real chemistry onstage, their body language expressing both wariness and excitement.

Mike Billings’s striking set is dominated by a huge wooden barrier that stands between the American military personnel and the beautiful island they temporarily occupy (seen only via projections). The characters seem trapped, which is nicely symbolic: In reality, they are held captive by their own biases. Then again, aren’t we all?

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



event calendar sponsored by:

Greka Found Operating Open Waste Pit Without Permit

Asphalt operation in Santa Maria ordered by EPA to sample for possible toxic migration into nearby fields ...

Regional Control in Crosshairs in State Housing Crisis

Key reform would require "objective design review" standards.

Behrens Denied Access to Memo That Helped Demote Him

Judge says district still must provide more complete accounting of job-performance issues.

Are We Out of the Drought?

With the recent rains, Lake Cachuma is now almost 60 percent full.

Supervisor Peter Adam Not Running for Third Term

He instead announced his support of early candidate Bob Nelson.