South Pacific: Darlington Operatic Society, Darlington Civic Theatre

EACH time DOS announces its next production I think to myself: "Surely that’s too difficult for an amateur company”. Each time this young, enthusiastic company proves me wrong, and South Pacific is no exception. The standard now is so high that I really think they could take on anything and astound the audience with talent and professionalism.

Musical director Michael Trotter and the assembled musicians don’t disappoint, and the society will be hard-pressed to find someone to replace Michael, who is retiring this year. Having said that, such is the society’s reputation that it attracts high-calibre people, as demonstrated by this big, romantic, thoroughly enjoyable production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best-loved musical.

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Society stalwart Julian Cound is excellent as Emile de Becque, newly in love with feisty Navy nurse Nellie Forbush. Kat Flynn captures our hearts as Nellie, torn between her joy at finding her "wonderful guy" and her upbringing which has placed a taboo on mixed race relationships.

In the same boat, as it were, is SeeBee Lieutenant Joe Cable, in love with a native girl, but unable to offer her marriage. Hunky Michael Hirst struggles a bit with the vocals; this genre of songs is very different from what’s popular now, and when you add maintaining the American accent and acting the part as well it’s quite an achievement. He looks ripped without a shirt, too.

Quick mentions for Oliver and Zoe as de Becque’s children, good singing and stage presence, and for Ben Connor discovering comic skills to match his singing voice as Luther Billis.

* Runs until Saturday October 31. Box Office: 01325-486555 and darlingtoncivic.co.uk

Sue Heath