The performers in a play or musical are referred to as a company, but when the spirit of cooperation is strong they can also be called a community. The most recent sign that the South Pacific group qualifies for the latter designation occurred this past Sunday night at the Knitting Factory, in downtown Manhattan.

There, in one of the multi-level warren of rooms making up this venue, cast members Becca Ayers (the show's Ensign Cora MacRae) and Sean Cullen (Commander William Harbison) each performed original songs. Accompanying herself on guitar, Ayers went first, with a set that demonstrated an elegantly rendered mixture of influences that Ayers, on her MySpace page, names as "Ani DiFranco, Patty Griffin, Jonatha Brooke, Rilo Kiley, Ben Folds, Tori Amos, Indigo Girls." There are others in the mash-up, but were I to list them there would not be room here to mention ...

...Cullen. His South Pacific character, an executive type of officer, may radiate experience, but when it comes to Cullen's music -- which was a little less poetic than Ayers's, though every bit as engaging -- this actor is more of a novice. Cullen told me that the Knitting Factory gig was the first time he had performed most of the songs. "My friend Eric Morris and I," Cullen said, "did three or four at a benefit last fall. There was no sound system, and it was just Eric on guitar and me singing, so it was not quite anything" like the Knitting Factory engagement.

Cullen added: "Everyone is tired now. We've had three exceptionally long weeks, with three more to go till opening, and still there were at least 15 South Pacific company members [at the Knitting Factory], some with spouses and significant others."

Sounds like a community to me.