TO an already impressive CV which includes playing some of the great female roles in some of the most famous musicals of all time, Gina Beck can now add a new talent - juggling.

There are no hoops or clubs involved, however. Gina is preparing to balance starring in a revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic South Pacific which opens in Manchester today with looking after her baby son who will be accompanying her as she makes her first visit to the Opera House before the show takes up a summer residency at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London.

“I’ve got my big suitcase and a little suitcase and we’re ready,” she laughed. “Of course the big suitcase isn’t for me.”


Gina Beck in South Pacific (Picture: Johan Persson)

Gina Beck in South Pacific (Picture: Johan Persson)


After London, South Pacific will head out around the country through October and November.

“I’ve never been to Manchester before,” said Gina who plays the spirited Ensign Nellie Forbush in the show. “In fact, I’ve never been on a UK tour before. I’ve played in the West End and in America but this will be the first time I’ve gone out on the road and it is very exciting.”

Gina has become one of the West End’s ‘go-to’ leading ladies and she has played some of the classic musical roles including Cosette in Les Miserables, Christine in The Phantom of the Opera and Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked. She also starred as Miss Honey in Matilda the Musical.

The revival of South Pacific began at the Chichester Festival Theatre last year after lockdown restrictions eased. Gina shared the role of Nellie with Alex Young which allowed her to continue to perform while pregnant - a move which was seen as groundbreaking in the world of musical theatre.

“Everyone at Chichester was so supportive and did everything they could for me,” said Gina. “So often women get pregnant and that is immediately seen as putting a stop to things; you’re led to believe that you can’t just carry on. It was so refreshing to see this enlightened approach.


Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck in South Pacific (Pcture: Johan Persson)

Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck in South Pacific (Pcture: Johan Persson)


“And that has continued with this tour. I’ve had my baby with me through rehearsals and he’ll be coming with me.” Gina also has a little girl.

“It’s nice people see that I’m setting precedents. If one person can benefit from me doing a show while I’m pregnant then I’m happy. then I’m happy. The thing to remember is that you shouldn’t just think that something is impossible and just don’t try.”

South Pacific is the story of an American nurse stationed on a island during the Second World War who falls in love with a plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed race children.

The subject matter may raise an eyebrow in these more politically-aware times but Gina is quick to defend the show.

“Rodgers and Hammerstein were incredibly forward-thinking,” she said. “They were very anti-racist. Anyone who says ‘Oh, South Pacific was that racist musical’ is completely missing the point.

“They were trying to put a mirror up and say ‘this is what people are like, and this is the kind of view that we need to challenge’.”


Gina Beck iand Julian Ovenden n South Pacific (Pcture: Johan Persson)

Gina Beck iand Julian Ovenden n South Pacific (Pcture: Johan Persson)


Gina stars alongside Julian Ovenden who plays Emile de Becque in the production directed by Daniel Evans.

“Getting to work with such talented people is a joy,” she said.

The cast have had a rare opportunity in theatre being able to revisit the show after a nine month break.

“That’s a real luxury,” said Gina, “and it’s allowed us to come at it afresh. We have changed certain things and as a performer it gives you a chance to dig a little deeper into your character and look at why you are doing certain things.”

South Pacific a big show which may well surprise audiences with a cast of around 30 performers.

“It has to be big,” said Gina. “It would be impossible to tell the story of these sailors trapped on an island if there were only a couple of them.”


Keir Charles and Gina Back in South Pacific (Picture: Johan Persson)

Keir Charles and Gina Back in South Pacific (Picture: Johan Persson)


The show also features some memorable songs such Some Enchanted Evening, Younger than Springtime, There is Nothing Like a Dame and I’m Going To Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.

“The show is a masterpiece really,” said Gina. “So many of the songs stand up in their own right, they are just so precise and so well thought-out.”

When it was released in 1958, the soundtrack album topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and remained at the top of the UK album charts for over 70 weeks.

“That generation who grew up owning the album are now the older generation today so this could be one of the last productions which gets to reach those people who have the songs in their hearts which is quite poignant,” said Gina. “But there is also a whole new audience who are discovering the magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

“I’m just loving the fact that I get to come back to the show and take it out there to different audiences. As I was pregnant when we did it before I can now throw myself around the stage a lot more - and they’ve also had to take in all the costumes which is never a bad thing!”

South Pacific, Opera House, Manchester, Saturday, July 16 to Saturday, July 23. Details from