Austin musical features Albert Lea resident

Published 5:33 pm Saturday, June 14, 2008

A popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical will set the tone for the 2008 season of Austin’s Summerset Theatre.

“South Pacific” debuts Sunday at Frank W. Bridges Theatre on the Riverland Community College campus.

A cast of 35 has been rehearsing since June 2 for their production, set in 1942 during World War II on an island paradise.

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The show features Anna Sturtz of Albert Lea as Nellie Forbush and Gordy Handeland of Austin as Emile de Becque.

During the musical two parallel love stories are told: one of an Arkansas nurse, Nellie, who falls in love with a French planter, Emile; and the other of Lt. Joe Cable, who had fallen for a Tonkinese girl.

Though the production has undertones addressing racial prejudice, director Jerry Girton said that is what makes Rodgers and Hammerstein “so good.”

“There’s fun and frolic in it,” he said, with classic numbers like “Some Enchanted Evening,” “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” and “Bali Ha’i.”

Girton said the last Summerset production of “South Pacific” was decades ago. For the past eight to 10 years, the season debut has been held on Father’s Day.

The Sunday production begins at 7 p.m.; on Monday through Saturday it begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students 16 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the Riverland Box Office. Call 433-0595 for more information.