American Light Opera Company (ALOC)


May 20 to June 7, 1963

Luther Billis (Lew Resseguie) and Bloody Mary (Charlotte Dixon)
Liat (Maria Roces) and Bloody Mary (Charlotte Dixon)

  I worked with the American Light Opera Company (ALOC) from 1963 to 1965, first as a member of the chorus then on the lighting crew. One of the coeds who had been in Bye Bye Birdie with me at George Washington University told me about them. So in March I went to a church in Georgetown where ALOC was having auditions for South Pacific
  Callbacks were held in another church in Georgetown, where I first saw Sherri Remez. I was cast as a Seabee and understudy to Commander Harbison; Sherri was in the chorus and understudy to Liat. I don't think I ever talked to her--she was only 16 years old. Her younger sister played one of Emile de Becque's children. In 1965 or 1967 (I was with Nancy Wilson at the time), I ran into her on M Street. She recognized me but didn't remember my name (if she ever knew it); she was working at Arena Stage.
  Rehearsals were held in various places in Georgetown. One was somewhere near MacArthur Boulevard. I had stopped in a High's to get a drink or something when a guy came up to me and asked if I was in South Pacific. He had seen me during an earlier rehearsal and needed a ride from the end of the bus route to where we were rehearsing. John Sturgis was about ten years older than me, small, with a face lined beyond his ears, and a cockiness from years of playing the horses, shooting pool, and being a singing waiter. Like me, he was in the chorus and was understudy to Stewpot.
  The night before opening was a mess. So those of us in the chorus stayed behind for an hour while Charley Peckham choreographed the set changes.

Staged and Directed by Donn B. Murphy
Musical Direction by John McCreary
Choreography by Mary Ellen Guinn
Scenery Designed by Donn B. Murphy
Costumes Designed by Gene Barth
Lighting Designed by Charles Peckham
produced by James B. Ueberhorst
James Thornton Hall, Executive Producer

The cast
Maureen Fitzpatrick as Nellie Forbush
David Beckwitt as Emile Debeque
Charlotte Dixon as Bloody Mary
Lew Resseguie as Luther Billis
Hugh Gage as Professor
Ron Smith as Stewpot
Harry Danner as Lt. Cable
Maria Roces as Liat
Spike Dabrowski as Capt. Brackett
Bob Frankfurt as Cmdr. William Harrison
Lani Remez as Ngana
Suresh Gunasingham as Jerome
Juichi Kamakawa as Henry
Tony Lang as Lt. Buzz Adams

The Seabees
George Faison, Alan Abrams, Harvey Ray, John Sturgis, John Thomas, Dave Parker, Michael Katz,
Joe Conway, David Hyman, Robert Wenz, Grant Carrington, Charles Lee, James Follin, James Hayes

The Nurses
Doris Wright, Florence Bambrick, Sherri Remez, Diane Finlay, Ray Wasserman, Jan Larkins,
Donna-Rae Jones, Anne Collins, Sue Driesen, Rosemary Plunkett, Carol Evans, Nancy Richardson,
Bunny Ray, Shirley Balmer, Mary June Will

Nellie--Sue Driesen; Emile--Franklin Summers
Bloody Mary--Carol Mattoon; Stewpot--John Sturgis
Billis--Al Bullock; Professor--David Parker
Cable--Curry Freer; Brackett--Herb Buck

Hugh Gage, Production Manager; Thomas Harper, Stage Manager
Elizabeth Parker, Costumes; Paul Scheib, Lighting; William Weisel, Sound
Diana Barsky, Makeup; Barbara Callaway, Properties

Stage Crew
William Hilbish, David Parker, Claudette Artini, Salty Bigelow, Edward Butler, Thomas Creighton,
Mark Depold, Linda Drew, Norman Henderson, Dennis Higgins, Mimi Libert, Deboarah Lockwood,
Fred Luskin, Pat Lynn, John Mang, Heidi Mellenberg, Toni Nichols, Paul Scheib, Edward Sheats,
Halbert Sloat, Milford Snyder, Gene Wood, Joan Wood

Lighting Crew
Michael Brown, Gary Gitzen, Dennis Jelalian, Donald Land, Carl Lazenby, Patricia Lynn
Johnny Midnight, Dennis Richmond, Bonnie Sonem, William Soule

John McCreary . . . . . Donn Murphy . . . . . Hugh Gage . . . . . Dave Beckwitt

"South Pacific" Doesn't Show Its Age
By Paul Hume
Washington Post, Saturday, May 11, 1963

  The American Light Opera Company's "South Pacific" opened last night in Trinity Theater, Georgetown, and showed how little this great musical has aged since its Mary Martin-Ezio Pinza premier 14 years ago.
  Donn Murphy has staged and directed the busy show with all the bounce and boisterous fun it will take. And with Seabees and Marines and the ladies of the nurse corps, that's plenty. For the quiet moments on Emile de Becque's plantation and on Bali Hai, he has taken good advantage of the resting places.
  The cast is a powerful one with some wonderful surprises. Just where to start with these is a little hard to say but I think it has to be with the absolute smash hit of a new singing actress arouind town. She is Charlotte Dixon and her Bloody Mary can stand alongside any. Her way with the speaking lines is marvelous, her accent, her appearance, her subtle and not so subtle touches, are all terrific. And when she sings it only gets better. She is a great find.
  Right with her is the wonderful life that Maureen Fitzpatrick puts into the famous Ensign Nellie Forbush, the gal from Little Rock. She falls in love, she washes that man right out of her hair, she stages the Thanksgiving Follies, she does everything, sings, dances, and sends those Marines. No wonder de Becque wants to keep her there.
  The whole crew of men and nurses are an assorted lot of handsome contrasts, with all the verve and earthy carryings on. The stage jumps with Lew Resseguie's Billis, Hugh Gage's Professor and Alan Abrams' Quale. Even if Billis did muff one of the best lines in "Nothing Like a Dame."
  Lt. Joseph Cable looks like a nice combination of on-the-job-officer and a youngster from Philadelphia via Princeton. "Younger Than Springtime" pushes him just a bit, but he is right for the part. When he comes to "You've Got to Be Taught to Hate," he really means it. And you suddenly realize that the song actually means even more today than it did in 1949.
  It isn't fair to keep remembering Pinza as de Becque. So I didn't. David Beckwitt sings, speaks and moves with a strangely satisfying feeling for the Frenchman who has never quite fit into the rest of the world but who believes that people should be free and unbullied. And he sings his geat songs with beautiful sounds and fine effect.
  John McCreary conducted the famous score as if he had always wanted to and knew just what to do about every moment of it. The company is losing him to Hawaii and director Murphy to the University of Wisconsin. But this company has always turned up with good successors for any who have left its ranks. In the meantime, its "South Pacific" is worth seeing in every way.
  The theater is hot. Go dressed for an island in the Pacific, South.

Yvonne Diaz . . . . Al Bullock . . . . Harry Danner . . . . Al Abrams

  I was understudy to Commander. Harbison and Herb Buck was understudy to Captain Brackett. Bob Frankfurt did only the first performance then I was left with Harbison. But I enjoyed being in the chorus so much (it really was a lot of fun) that I talked Donn Murphy into letting Herb play Commander Harbison and I took the role on only when Herb was playing Captain Brackett.

  ALOC's home was the Trinity Theatre, in a building probably built in the 1920s that was being used as a Catholic girls grammar school. After our run there, we put on two performances at Saint Elizabeth's hospital then had a cast party luau at the home of Lucille Roybal, the daughter of a Congressman from New Mexico. Lucille had worked backstage for several shows.

Luther Billis (Lew Resseguie) and Stewpot (Ron Smith) with Seabees & Nurses
(GC to right of Stewpot; Diane Findlay & Sherri Remez on far right)

Maureen Fitzpatrick & Dave Beckwitt; Maureen Fitzpatrick & Harry Danner

Sherri Remez, YvonneDiaz, Ray Wasserman, Diane Findlay, Donna Rae Jones, Lew Resseguie