The show goes on | SteamboatToday.com

The show goes on

'South Pacific' cast perseveres through tragic loss

Allison Plean

Most musicals are about the struggle and triumph over adversity. The story about Steamboat Springs High School’s production of “South Pacific” is no different.

“Last week, we couldn’t look at one another without tearing up,” said Jacquie Stegmaier, a stage mom.

¤ “South Pacific,” a musical by Steamboat Springs High School students

¤ 7 p.m. Thursday, and April 14 and 15

¤ Steamboat Springs High School auditorium

¤ $10 for adults; $8 for youths ages 12 to 18; and $5 for children ages 12 and younger

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The production lost one of its instrumental players, Brian Houston, in a tragic motorcycle accident last month.

“He was the piano accompanist and the heart and soul of the show,” said Chula Walker-Griffith, the musical’s director.

“A lot of the kids involved have been in musicals in Steamboat since they were kids, and Brian Houston has always been there,” said Max Pensack, an actor in the musical.

Most of the funds generated from ticket sales from opening night will go to the Brian Houston Fund to help support his family. There also will be a memorial page in the program, and some of Houston’s favorite music will be played during intermission.

The message in “South Pacific” is an uplifting one.

“It’s a double love story set in the beautiful South Pacific Island during the turmoil of World War II,” said Walker Hammond, who plays Emile de Becque.

“It’s about love, finding what you want and taking chances,” Griffith said.

It also is about being able to really ham it up.

“I like the fact that all the lines in the musical are so corny,” Pensack said.

“They’re over the top,” Hammond agreed.

“South Pacific” will mark Hammond’s acting debut. Acting is something his father, Kris Hammond, has been doing for years in productions such as “Cabaret.”

But the younger Hammond feels no pressure following in his father’s footsteps.

“I think he’s excited but doesn’t want to help me too much because he thinks I won’t like it (acting) if he’s too involved,” Hammond said.

Alex Stegmaier, who plays the lead role, Ens. Nelly Forbush, will perform her first kiss in front of an audience.

“It’s my first stage kiss. It’s a little weird,” Alex Stegmaier said.

The costumes for the main characters were designed and made by Suzie Ford for her senior project, and the set was built by the Theater Tech class with help from parents and cast members. They hired a lighting designer from Denver, and the tech crew is all students.

Julie Tucek choreographed the dance numbers for the show.

“They’re in the style of the ’50s — they’re ’50s cheese,” Tucek said. “All the musicals back then were very mimicky of the words. It’s in the same vein.”

Cast members said preparing for the show has been tough but that everyone has persevered.

“The kids are amazing — so adaptable and resilient. They pushed through and worked hard in his (Houston’s) memory,” Griffith said.

¤ “South Pacific,” a musical by Steamboat Springs High School students

¤ 7 p.m. Thursday, and April 14 and 15

¤ Steamboat Springs High School auditorium

¤ $10 for adults; $8 for youths ages 12 to 18; and $5 for children ages 12 and younger