Small-town love in the South Pacific

Danny Owen and Lauren Kempton star in South Pacific at Ferneham Hall.

Danny Owen and Lauren Kempton star in South Pacific at Ferneham Hall.

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A classic tale of romance and derring-do comes to Fareham this month as the South Downe Musical Society brings South Pacific to Ferneham Hall.

The popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical follows the story of Nellie Forbush, a small town girl who has enlisted with the American Navy as a nurse.

Posted to a South Pacific island during the Second World War Nellie falls for a charming French plantation owner but must confront her own racial prejudice to follow her heart.

The show is set against a backdrop of secret military missions and features popular Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes including I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair, Bali Ha’i and I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy.

Lauren Kempton, 27, from Southsea takes on the role of Nellie and has enjoyed preparing for the role.

‘We’ve been rehearsing since December last year,’ says Lauren. ‘It’s gone really well and we have John Paul McClaren as guest director from CCADS. He’s a very good director and brings out the best in us.’

Lauren, works for the Navy at HMS Excellent and comes from a background that has much in common with her character.

But Lauren has found Nellie’s bigoted attitudes challenging.

‘Nellie comes from Little Rock, Arkansas and is quite excited to join the Navy and see the world.

‘Nellie is quite bubbly and in that respect she is like me. She’s also a small town girl and I’m originally from a small military town called Deal in Kent, but Nellie has a lot of the small-town prejudices.

‘I was really interested to play the role but one of the lines I have to say in the show is quite blunt and shocking. I wanted to make sure I did it with the right amount of sensitivity.

‘It’s quite difficult to play a character that you don’t like at first. But I have come to love her – she’s quite endearing.

‘South Pacific is definitely my favourite show by Rogers and Hammerstein. It’s a traditional show but it deals with the subject of prejudice, which is unusual.

‘Living in Portsmouth now, which is quite cosmopolitan, some of these issues are quite a shock but I think it’s important that the theatre entertains and educates. I like shows with more than just a few songs to them – I like there to be meaning as well.’

South Pacific comes to Ferneham Hall from Thursday, April 24 until Saturday April 26 at 7.30pm with a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday.

Tickets cost £11–£14.50. For further information and to book tickets visit fernehamhall.co.uk or alternatively call the box office on 01329 231942.

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