Kentlake drama program brings ‘South Pacific’ musical to life

There were a few doubts in Pam Cressey's mind about whether her Kentlake High School drama club students could make the characters in the musical "South Pacific" seem real. But the students quickly erased those doubts after the opening weekend of shows.

Kentlake students

Kentlake students

There were a few doubts in Pam Cressey’s mind about whether her Kentlake High School drama club students could make the characters in the musical “South Pacific” seem real.

But the students quickly erased those doubts after the opening weekend of shows.

“The kids do a nice job to make the characters seem real and not just that they are acting,” said Cressey, the Kentlake drama director, in a phone interview May 4. “They make the characters real people. They really accomplished that.”

The performances continue 7 p.m. May 6-7 and at 2 and 7 p.m. May 8 at the Kentlake Performing Arts Center, 21401 S.E. 300th St. Tickets are $10, but free for active-duty military and veterans, as the school honors those who have served in the military.

The story is set on a South Pacific island during World War II. Love blooms between a young nurse (Nellie Forbush) and a secretive Frenchman (Emile De Becque) who is being courted for a dangerous military mission.

Familiar hit songs from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical include, “Some Enchanted Evening,” “There is Nothing like a Dame,” “Bali Hai” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.”

“The singing is amazing in this one and the orchestra is great,” Cressey said. “It’s been very enjoyable. I’ve seen it a lot and I’m not sick of it. It is fresh every night.”

As with other plays at Kentlake, Cressey double casts the primary roles. About eight roles are double cast in “South Pacific.”

“I’m known to double and triple cast so kids get a chance to get on stage,” Cressey said. “It does make it hard to rehearse and makes for a lot more work.”

The lead actors, all seniors, include Malanie Bibko and Monica Rodriguez as Nellie Forbush, Jacob Axelson and Craig Heffner as Emile De Becque, Allison Combs and Mackenzie Higgins as Bloody Marys, Jayson Baughan and Jener DaSilva as Luther Billis, and Greg Smith and Zach Vermilion as Lt. Joe Cable.

Cressey said students are not given first or second leads, but rather draw dates for the shows where they will perform.

There are 51 students in the cast, 37 in the orchestra and 15 on the stage and technical crew. More than 80 students auditioned for the show.

One of the highlights so far has been the number of military veterans who have attended the show.

“We have them all stand up,” Cressey said. “The kids have had grandparents who served in World War II show up. It’s been a real experience.”

Cressey said the students took to heart the goal to make life on the South Pacific during the war come alive.

“I think we were really trying and doing a pretty good job of what happened in November of 1942,” she said.

For more information, go to

If you go

What: Kentlake High presents “South Pacific”

When: 7 p.m. May 6-7; 2 and 7 p.m. May 8

Where: Kentlake High PAC, 21401 S.E. 300th St.

Cost: $10; free for active duty military and veterans

Tickets: At the door or

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