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Arts Association staging 'South Pacific'
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Continuing the tradition of offering high quality programming to the residents of Newton County, The Arts Association has announced it will hold auditions next week for a community production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Tony award-winning musical "South Pacific."

According to R&H Theatricals, the plot of "South Pacific" centers around two parallel love stories, set in an island paradise during World War II, which are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile's proposal of marriage.

Meanwhile, the youthful Lt. Joe Cable who is sent to the island on a special assignment for the U.S. Marine Corps denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Tonkinese girl with whom he's fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices.

"We are thrilled to be able to do South Pacific," said Buncie Lanners, executive director of the Arts Association in Newton County.

Lanners noted that the same people who directed and produced the Arts Association's well received 2004 production of "Fiddler on the Roof" will once again direct and produce "South Pacific" this year.

"South Pacific" will be directed by Anne Hargis, with MaryLynn Luke as musical director, Jay Tryall as assistant director and Ric Chiapetta as artistic director and producer.

"I wanted to do another family show much like "Fiddlers on the Roof" which was so successful," said Chiapetta of why the Arts Association selected "South Pacific" this year. "Rodgers and Hammerstein are the epitome of family musicals. The message of the play is as poignant today as it was 50 years ago when it came out."

"South Pacific" has parts for all ages said Chiapetta, adding that the Arts Association was looking to cast about 60 people in the show. The fact that more than half of the parts are male is a risk said Chiapetta, adding that the Arts Association decided to chance it because so many people from the community auditioned last time for "Fiddler on the Roof."

"A lot of people have expressed interest," said Chiapetta. "I'm hoping they're going to come out in equally strong numbers this time."

Auditions will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 9 and 10 in the Porter Hall Auditorium at Newton High School. Those interested in auditioning do not need to have a prepared piece; however, a resume is needed and a head shot if available. All those auditioning should be prepared to dance as well as sing and act. During auditions participants should enter through the rear backstage doors of the theatre.

All, regardless of experience, are encouraged to try out said Chiapetta adding that there are plenty of large and small parts in "South Pacific."

Chiapetta said he expected casting to go up on the Arts Association's Web site at on July 12 with rehearsals to begin the following week. "South Pacific" will have an eight week rehearsal period before curtain goes up on September 14, with shows to follow on the 15, 21 and 22.

While some corporate sponsors are still finalizing their contributions, Lanners said "South Pacific" already has two major donors who have contributed $10,000 at the gold level - McIntosh Commercial Bank and Beaver Manufacturing.

This production of "South Pacific" will kick off the annual arts season for the Arts Association. For more information, contact the Arts Association at (770) 786-8188 or