By Jann Wiswall

Ellicottville Central School’s Drama Club is rehearsing now for a performance of the much-beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “South Pacific.”

If you’ve never seen this remarkable show, this is your chance to hear some of the best Broadway songs ever written, combined with a romance, war and morality story that still resonates today.

Based on James Michener’s 1947 Pulitzer-prize winning novel, “Tales of the South Pacific,” which dealt primarily with the issue of racism, the musical is set in an island paradise during World War II and centers on two parallel love stories. One romance is between an American nurse from Arkansas (Nellie) and a widowed French plantation owner (Emile) who has mixed-race children. The other is between an American lieutenant (Joe) and a Polynesian matchmaker’s daughter, Liat. Both Nellie and Joe must explore their upbringings, prejudices and fears of social consequences as their relationships develop.

As deep as the messages may be, however, the musical is filled with simply joyous music, beautifully crafted dialogue and comedic characters that have been keeping audiences all over the world smiling and singing along for more than six decades. Some of the most memorable of the featured songs include “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “Happy Talk,” “Bali Ha’i,” “Younger than Springtime,” “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” and “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame.”

The drama club has cast Elizabeth Wendel as Nellie, Liam O’Rourke as Emile, Calum Watt as Joe, Alessia Filutze as Liat and Olivia Venezia as Liat’s mother, Bloody Mary. Another 36 ECS students complete the cast and chorus, including Tanner Gregory, Quinn O’Rourke, Cory Tomblin, Stone Wilson, Molly Woodarek, Ande Pierce, Kaleigh Hunt, Philip Kurtis, Noah Butler, Alex Delity, Doug Bliss, Max Paddock, Jacob Perkins, Aidan Wilson, Griffin Haley, Nick Delity, Courtney Antholzner, Mary Bohn, Hannah Doro, Jocelyn Steffan, Leah Westfall, Shelby Toth, Jordi Curtis, Emma Chew, Hannah Chew, Ices Decker, Lisa Krotz, Joran Lyford, Alex Pangborn, Allison Raecher, Malorie Chamberlain, Kayleigh Coolidge, Allyson Fisher, Linnea Jimerson, Sierra Wilber and Grace Young.

Tickets are just $7 and will be on sale at the door. Both performances will be held April 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Salamanca High School Auditorium.