The New Ulm Actors Community Theatre (NUACT) is presenting Rodgers & Hammerstein’s award winning musical “South Pacific” on July 25-28.

The New Ulm Actors Community Theatre (NUACT) is presenting Rodgers & Hammerstein’s award winning musical “South Pacific” on July 25-28.

Director Paul Warshauer calls this “the greatest musical ever written” because it contains great songs, a solid script and the backdrop of the Pacific Islands in the early days of World War II. The musical won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony, and the film earned several Academy Awards.

Seventy actors, singers, dancers and a 20 piece orchestra are participating in this production with cast and crew from New Ulm, Fairfax, Winthrop, Madelia, Sleepy Eye and Courtland.

Three actors from Sleepy Eye will be taking part in the production. Tim Zinniel who plays Captain Harbison, says this is “his first musical in years.” Tim is an electrician for Zinniel Electric in Sleepy Eye. Chris Seifert plays Lt. Joseph Cable and Jonathan Warling plays a sailor, Abner.

“I’ve always been a supporter of local things,” Warling, a Brainerd native and Brown County 4-H intern, said. “Community Theater is supported by the community. The nice thing about Community Theater is that the people involved are really dedicated to this production. The people you see every day or work along side of, are working hard on this show.”

The cast includes veterans of many stage plays and musicals in the region as well as many newcomers, such as Warling.

Warling got involved in the play when Chris Seifert, Sleepy Eye native who plays the first lead in the production, contacted him and asked if he would like to take part in it. Warling was unable to make auditions the first night, but called director, Paul Warshauer, to see if he could still take part.

“He (Warshauer) said if you can sing and move we would love to have you.” Warling explained. “He was blown away that I can sing, dance and act.”

Warling, a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, sings in the college choir and has taken part in several productions at the college. He noted he has also acted in community theater as a young adult in Brainerd.

Warling said his role in the production is multifaceted. He plays Abner, but also has been asked to play other roles when necessary.

“If there is a role that needs to be filled, I’m called from back stage and put in,” Warling said. “I’m excited about that because I get to act in several different areas. I’m not just one person having to hold that character. I get to be five or six different characters in one production.”

The plot centers on an American nurse (Nellie Forbush played by Leah Boeder) stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II who falls in love with a middle-aged expatriate French plantation owner (Emile DeBecque played by Kent Menzel), but struggles to accept his mixed-race children, (played by Dawson Sellner and Katia Ostermann). A secondary romance, between a U.S. lieutenant (Joe Cable played by Chris Seifert) and a young Tonkinese woman (Liat played by Cloe Cedillo) explores his fears of the social consequences should he marry his Asian sweetheart. The issue of racial prejudice is candidly explored throughout the musical, most controversially in the lieutenant’s son, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” 

For Warling, “South Pacific” is an entirely new acting experience for him, allowing him to create his own role not having seen what other actors have done with it. He went on to say he thinks this play is very connectable for everyone. While the play centers on wartime in South Pacific in the days of World War II, Warling said we all know someone who has been or is in the military or overseas.

“I think that is why Paul decided to choose this musical because it is timely, but also because it shows that these men and women have a life in the military outside of being on patrol.” Warling said. “This production shows there is a positive side to something as negative as a war. You have emotion and laughter in this well-rounded production to showcase something in a different light that is going on around the world.”

Rehearsals began at the end of June and opening night is Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Look for the ad in the print edition of the Herald-Dispatch on page 9 for additional show times and ticket prices.