Theatre Under the Stars



Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) introduces the cast of the new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

South Pacific was not only groundbreaking when it originally opened on Broadway in 1949, but it was a landmark moment for Theatre Under The Stars when we first produced it in 1972,” said TUTS Artistic Director, Dan Knechtges. “I have to think that with that first production of South Pacific Theatre Under The Stars laid down the markers that would be the hallmark of all our musicals – engaging on a large scale, Texas-sized productions that could only be done in Houston.”

The stellar cast of South Pacific features a mix of local and out-of-town actors who take the stage on February 8 to tell this ground-breaking story set against the background of a tropical paradise.

Natalie Ballenger, James D. Sasser and Melody Butiu lead off the cast in the roles of “Ensign Nellie Forbush,” “Emile De Becque” and “Bloody Mary” respectively. Joining them are Rei Akazawa-Smith as “Liat,” Trey Harrington as “Luther Billis,” Nigel Huckle as “Lt. Joseph Cable,” Paul Hope as “Capt. George Brackett,” Philip Kershaw as “Commander William Harrison,” Logan Keslar as “Stewpot,” Christopher Tipps as “Professor,” Jesse Yip as “Jerome” and Kelsey Yip as “Ngana.”

Rounding out the cast in the Ensemble are Michael Alonzo, Mateus Barbosa Da Silva, Courtney Chilton, Sophia Clarke, Jeremy Gee, Miles Marmolejo, Riley McShanog, Joline Mujica, Sarah Sachi, Christopher Scurlock, Yasmyn Sumiyoshi and Holland Vavra. Geoffrey Hahn will be the “Standby Emile” and Steven Bogard will be the “Standby Captain Brackett.”

Knechtges believes this new production will strike a chord with audiences of all ages.

“We wanted our modern audience to connect to the piece and be astonished that it has the same power and emotion, perhaps even more so, than when it premiered at TUTS in 1972,” said Knechtges.

South Pacific will be directed by Taibi Magar, who previously directed Spring Awakening at Theatre Under The Stars.She is joined by Choreographer, Courtney D. Jones;Musical Director, Stephen W. Jones; Costume Designer, Colleen Grady, Lighting Designer, Clint Allen, and Sound Designer, Andrew Harper; Hair & Makeup Designer, Kelley Jordan and Intimacy / Sensitivity Specialist, Ann C. James. Casting for South Pacificis provided by Calleri Jensen Davis Casting and by TUTS Associate Artistic Director, Monique Midgette

South Pacific features music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan, and was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Tales of the South Pacific” by James Michener. Set in an island paradise during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile’s proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, the strapping Lt. Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Tonkinese girl with whom he’s fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe’s life, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices. South Pacific runs February 8 through 20 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at just $40, and are available online at, or by contacting the TUTS Box Office by phone at (713) 558-8887 or in person by visiting the Box Office located at 800 Bagby Street

Theatre Under The Stars is grateful to season sponsors Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites. South Pacific is sponsored in part by Apache. Theatre Under The Stars is funded in part by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.