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Praise for The Cleveland Orchestra and BW Music Theatre's 'South Pacific: In Concert'

Backstage at South Pacific, left to right, Andy Einhorn, Ryan Silverman, Loretta Ables Sayre, Victoria Bussert, Hanako Walrath, Elliot Madore, Kailey Boyle and Gordia Hayes. It was "Some Enchanted Evening" when the Broadway-ready directing and performing chops of the Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre program combined with the world-renowned sound of The Cleveland Orchestra (TCO) to produce "South Pacific: In Concert" at Blossom Music Center.

The result drew high praise from fans, The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com, COOL Cleveland and Broadway World, including a call for the collaboration to continue.

The August 24 in-concert stage presentation of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein classic was conducted by Broadway's Andy Einhorn, while the cast was directed by BW Music Theatre Director Victoria Bussert.

Exceptional treat

BW student Gordia Hayes (left) performs with professionals Ryan Silverman and Loretta Ables Sayre in "South Pacific: In Concert." (Photo courtesy Roger Mastroianni)In a preview for The Plain Dealer, Zachary Lewis predicted the combination of TCO and BW as "more than likely to be an exceptionally special treat," and he was not disappointed, writing in a review afterward that the performance "reminded a jam-packed Blossom Music Center of [BW's] prowess in musical theater."

The students in BW's nationally acclaimed music theatre program may be "Younger Than Springtime," but they showed off more than enough talent to fill three lead roles, plus the entire ensemble of nurses and sailors.

One review called Kailey Boyle '21 "a flat-out joy to behold as Nellie Forbush, every bit the equal of Elliot Madore, the professional baritone who sang Emile de Becque."

Gordia Hayes '20, who "garnered big laughs" as Luther Billis, performed "with abundant energy and panache," tangling with Tony Award-nominee Loretta Ables Sayre as Bloody Mary. While Hanako Walrath '23, appearing in the more serious role of Liat, "touchingly [relying] on gestures and dance to convey her feelings" as the love interest of Broadway singer Ryan Silverman as Lt. Cable.

Dream collaboration

A tender moment in South Pacific between Kailey Boyle as Nellie Forbush and Elliot Madore as Emile de Becque."It has been a dream of mine to sing with an orchestra of this caliber," Boyle said earlier in the week during a break from rehearsals at BW. "Never did I think I'd have the opportunity in college, not graduated yet."

"Even on Broadway, you don't get orchestras of this size or this world-renowned," Bussert told Cleveland Classical in another preview.

Reality did not disappoint. "It was so much more than any of us could have anticipated," Bussert said after the show. "It was truly a magical experience."

"South Pacific," with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, was originally adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Tales of the South Pacific" by James A. Michener. The concert adaptation was created by David Ives for the Carnegie Hall benefit concert of "South Pacific" in 2006.

Next up at BW: a "Kinky Boots" first

"Kinky Boots" logoBW Music Theatre will move from this momentous collaboration into preparations for another groundbreaking performance, as BW becomes the first college in the nation to present the Tony-winning "Kinky Boots" this November.

Tickets go on sale at bw.edu/tickets on September 12.

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