Natasha Dumlao from Cronulla and Gus Noakes from Como — Year 11 students from Newtown High School of the Performing Arts — will be playing two of the lead roles in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.
This musical first premiered in Broadway New York in 1949, and is based on the book Tales of the South Pacific written by James A. Michener, about his experiences during World War II.
South Pacific tells a story of two communities caught up the clash of racial differences when contrasting cultures are thrown together in the unprecedented social climate post-WW2.
It showcases evergreen numbers like Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair, Bali Hai, You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught and of course Some Enchanted Evening.
Gus plays an American naval officer ‘‘Cable’’ who falls in love with a beautiful young islander girl ‘‘Liat’’, played by Natasha.
As the love story goes, the young couple overcome cultural prejudice and the social pressures against their relationship, to remain true to their heart.
This is not the first time Natasha has tackled the issue of cultural and gender bias on stage.
At age 13 years, she played the lead role of Mulan in the ancient Chinese tale of a girl who rebelled against cultural expectations to save her family.
And in 2015, in a production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, the production took the rare step of breaking casting conventions by using three ethnic actors, including Natasha, a girl of Asian heritage, to portray the various roles of Alice, rather than the blonde-haired stereotype.
In South Pacific, Natasha will be taking on yet another challenge as the choreographer for the production.
Dancing since the age of three, Natasha hopes to bring to the stage the vibrancy and complexities of the story through dance.
‘‘The hardest and the best part of choreographing this show is that everyone has different abilities but it is amazing to see something wonderful and entertaining created when every single cast member works together,’’ Natasha said.
Gus is also no stranger to the stage. During his 16 years of age, Gus has shone through his singing, dancing and acting skills in 25 different musical society stage productions, including The Sound of Music, Oliver, Legally Blonde and The Boy from Oz.
Gus has been a lead vocalist in the NSW School Spectacular three years in a row.
His vocal finesse has presented him the opportunity to perform for world renowned artists, including Justin Timberlake, Peter Cousens and Felicity Urqhart.
Gus enjoys being part of South Pacific as it explores issues of racism, prejudice and acceptance.
‘‘I think it is especially relevant to us, seeing as Australia is a diversely multi-cultural nation,’’ Gus said.
South Pacific opens at the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts on Monday, March 20 with nightly performances until Friday, March 24.