South Pacific role-sharing after happy pregnancy news at CFT

Following the happy news that Gina Beck is pregnant, Chichester Festival Theatre has announced that in this summer’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, she will rehearse and open the role of Nellie Forbush as planned with performances from July 5 and a press night on July 13.
Gina BeckGina Beck
Gina Beck

From August 5, Alex Young will share the role of Nellie and take over full-time from August 23 for the remainder of the run. South Pacific (which was originally scheduled for 2020) is currently booking until September 4.

Alex returns to the Festival Theatre where she starred opposite Matt Lucas in Me and My Girl in 2018. She and Gina appeared together in Daniel Evans’s production of Show Boat in Sheffield and the West End.

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Daniel Evans, artistic director of CFT and director of South Pacific, said: “It’s utterly joyful news that Gina is expecting her second baby and that her long-awaited Chichester debut in the role of Nellie will take place as planned from July 5.

“I know that Gina is as delighted as I am that Alex Young will share the role with her at certain performances from August 5 and take over full-time for the final weeks of the run to allow Gina to focus full-time on her next production!

“Our amazing company – of 31 adults, six children and 15 musicians – starts rehearsals today. We are looking forward to exploring this great musical – which invites us to confront the differences within and outside ourselves – through a contemporary lens and revealing its pertinence to our times.”

Gina said: ‘I’m so excited to be finally playing Nellie at Chichester and am so grateful to CFT for all their support.

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“I’m hoping their trailblazing attitude will spread across the industry to create a future which accommodates those women who want to start a family.

“When carrying my first child, I became unemployable and unpaid for six months of my pregnancy because I looked, well…pregnant.

“Like most women, I wasn’t unable to work during this time, but because of some of the industry’s more conventional attitudes, financial pressures greatly impacted my choice to return to work when my daughter was just four months old.

“Thanks too, and huge respect to my dear friend and fellow mum Alex Young for taking over the reins later in our run when even I think eight shows a week may be too much!”

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Alex Young added: “I’m so delighted to be returning to Chichester and joining the extraordinary company of South Pacific. To be sharing this gorgeous role with Gina is a huge honour; she is someone I respect and admire enormously as a woman, actress and fellow mother.

“I’m very grateful to Dan and the team for creating a safe, sensitive and generous environment for parents in the industry.

“Being a working mum is a challenge, whatever line of work you’re in, but could feel almost impossible when you work in the arts, so I’m thrilled this important progress is being made.”

South Pacific is now booking at Chichester Festival Theatre from July 5-September 4; tickets from £10 from the venue box office.