Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos: Erin Mackey, Edward Staudenmayer, Christine Toy Johnson, Manna Nichols, CJ Eldred and More in SOUTH PACIFIC at the Guthrie Theater through August 28

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener and directed by Joseph Haj, opens tonight at The Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage. The production began previews on June 18th and will continue through August 28th. Single tickets start at $39, and are now on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org. The Guthrie is located at 818 South 2nd Street Minneapolis, MN 55415.

PRODUCTION PHOTOS by T. Charles Erickson.

Emile de Becque (Edward Staudenmayer) and Ensign Nellie Forbush (Erin Mackey). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Emile de Becque (Edward Staudenmayer) and Ensign Nellie Forbush (Erin Mackey). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

One of the most celebrated musicals in American theater, this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is a treasure trove of memorable songs from “Bali Hai” to “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” to “Some Enchanted Evening.” Set on an isolated island during World War II, this sweeping romance tells the story of two couples – a U.S. Navy nurse and a French planter, and a Marine Corps lieutenant and a young local girl – and how their happiness is threatened by the dangers of war and prejudices of their times.

Lt. Cable (CJ Eldred), Bloody Mary (Christine Toy Johnson) and Liat (Manna Nichols). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Lt. Cable (CJ Eldred), Bloody Mary (Christine Toy Johnson) and Liat (Manna Nichols). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

“I am thrilled to be directing my first musical here at the Guthrie,” said Artistic Director Joseph Haj. “Producing South Pacific in 2016 is specifically interesting to me. What Rodgers and Hammerstein were exploring in 1948 was so progressive and brave for its time; addressing racial prejudice, gender roles and topics of war is still completely relevant. I want this production, and the themes it acknowledges, to resonate in a similar fashion with today’s audience. South Pacific is one of the great classics in American musical theater, and I’m excited to bring a major revival to our community.”

Lt. Cable (CJ Eldred) and Liat (Manna Nichols). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Lt. Cable (CJ Eldred) and Liat (Manna Nichols). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Fresh musical talent will be featured onstage for South Pacific. Playing Ensign Nellie Forbush and making her Guthrie debut is Erin Mackey. Mackey’s acting career began when she was cast as Lindsey Lohan’s acting double in Disney’s 1998 film The Parent Trap. From there, she went on to play Glinda in Wicked, both in Chicago and Los Angeles and then on Broadway in 2009. Soon after, she was cast in Broadway’s Sondheim on Sondheim at the Roundabout Theatre Company and followed that up with the role of Hope Halcourt in the revival of Anything Goes. Mackey has also played Nellie Forbush in a production of South Pacific at Paper Mill Playhouse.

The cast of SOUTH PACIFIC. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

The cast of SOUTH PACIFIC. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Opposite Mackey is Edward Staudenmayer who will play Emile de Becque. Staudenmayer most recently starred as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in the National Tour of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes. On Broadway, he appeared as the White Rabbit in Wonderland and played opposite Martin Short in numerous performances in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. Staudenmayer also starred in Monty Python’s Spamalot (Sir Galahad, et. al.) at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas and played Monsieur André in the North American tour of Phantom of the Opera. Staudenmayer makes his Guthrie debut with South Pacific.

Lt. Cable (CJ Eldred), Cpt. George Brackett (Steve Hendrickson), Emile de Becque (Edward Staudenmayer) and Cmdr. Harbison (Michael Gruber). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Lt. Cable (CJ Eldred), Cpt. George Brackett (Steve Hendrickson), Emile de Becque (Edward Staudenmayer) and Cmdr. Harbison (Michael Gruber). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Rounding out the cast of South Pacific are Mathias Anderson (Guthrie: The Music Man, Little House on the Prairie, a new musical) as Yeoman Herbert Quale, Katie Bradley (Guthrie: debut) as Bloody Mary’s Assistant, Cat Brindisi (Guthrie: The Cocoanuts, Stage Kiss, My Fair Lady) as Ens. Cora MacRae, David Darrow (Guthrie: Juno and the Paycock, Crimes of the Heart, Skiing on Broken Glass) as O’Brien, CJ Eldred (Guthrie: debut) as Lt. Cable, Michael Gruber (Guthrie: The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday) as Cmdr. Harbison, Katie Hahn (Guthrie: The Cocoanuts, The Music Man) as Ens. Murphy, Steve Hendrickson (Guthrie: Harvey, Antony & Cleopatra) as Cpt. George Brackett, Daniel S. Hines (Guthrie: debut) as Stewpot, Lamar Jefferson (Guthrie: debut) as Radio Op Bob McCaffrey, Christine Toy Johnson (Guthrie: debut) as Bloody Mary, Jimmy Kieffer (Guthrie: debut) as Luther Billis, Joel Liestman (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Music Man) as Lt. Buzz Adams, Benjamin J. Lohrberg (Guthrie: debut) Ensemble, Wesley Mouri (Guthrie: The Cocoanuts, The Music Man) as Professor/Henry, Manna Nichols (Guthrie: debut) as Liat, Daniel Piering (Guthrie: debut) Ensemble, Carley A. Rosefelt (Guthrie: debut) as Ens. MacGregor, Laura Rudolph (Guthrie: debut) – Swing, Jon Michael Stiff (Guthrie: essential in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Government Inspector) – Swing and Allyson Tolbert (Guthrie: debut) as Lt. Genevieve Marshall.

Ngana (Louisa Darr), Ensign Nellie Forbush (Erin Mackey), Emile de Becque (Edward Staudenmayer) and Jerome (Sander L. Huynh-Weiss). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Ngana (Louisa Darr), Ensign Nellie Forbush (Erin Mackey), Emile de Becque (Edward Staudenmayer) and Jerome (Sander L. Huynh-Weiss). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Two roles will be shared by members of the children’s ensemble; Ngana will be played by Louisa Darr (Guthrie: debut) and Natalie Tran (Guthrie: The Music Man), and Jerome will be played by Gavihn Lee (Guthrie: debut) and Sander L. Huynh-Weiss (Guthrie: debut).

Cpt. George Brackett (Steve Hendrickson), Ensign Nellie Forbush (Erin Mackey), Radio Op Bob McCaffrey (Lamar Jefferson) and Cmdr. Harbison (Michael Gruber). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Cpt. George Brackett (Steve Hendrickson), Ensign Nellie Forbush (Erin Mackey), Radio Op Bob McCaffrey (Lamar Jefferson) and Cmdr. Harbison (Michael Gruber). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Joseph Haj has assembled an all-star creative team to bring South Pacific to life including John Lee Beatty (Set Designer), Jennifer Caprio (Costume Designer), Justin Townsend (Lighting Designer), Scott W. Edwards (Sound Designer), Tim Weil (Musical Director), Daniel Pelzig (Choreographer), Lucinda Holshue (Voice Coach), Jo Holcomb (Dramaturg), Chris A. Code (Stage Manager) and Assistant Stage Managers Michele Hossle and Tree O’Halloran.

The cast of SOUTH PACIFIC. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

The cast of SOUTH PACIFIC. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

South Pacific will play through August 28, 2016 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Single tickets start at $39 and are on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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