Home ContentReview: Opening Night of H.M.S. Pinafore

Review: Opening Night of H.M.S. Pinafore

Published : May 19, 2017

H.M.S. Pinafore sailed into the University of Western Australia on Thursday 18 May 2017.

Words: Juanita Pirozzi

Directed by Alan Needham with musical direction by Michael Brett, H.M.S. Pinafore is an operatic comedy set in 1878. It tells the story of Josephine (played by Delia Price), Captain Corcoran’s (William James Smith) daughter who is betrothed to Sir Joseph Porter (Colin Hughes), an admiral of an advanced age compared to her youth. Sobbing on the Captain’s shoulder, Josephine tells him of her love for Ralph Rackstraw (Chad Henderson), one of the sailors on board the ship. Of course the Captain is shocked and is determined that his daughter marry someone worthy of her social stature. In amusingly awkward timing Sir Joseph and his travelling companions of sisters, cousins and aunts then arrive on deck. Captain Corcoran and Sir Joseph come up with a matrimonial plan not knowing that Josephine and Ralph have plans of their own. 

As for the subplots, the mismatched love theme continues with the story of Little Buttercup (Belinda Cox), the dockside vendor who has her eye on the Captain. A lady from Sir Joseph’s entourage also professes her affection for him. These situations are what make the characters question whether love can level all ranks.

The first act of the production was focused on character development. As the main characters were singing, shuffling and foot stomping on the deck; I understood what their conflicts were and their intentions to resolve them. 

The second act was about how these conflict resolutions take place. Given that the characters are in love with those outside of their ranks; the solution to these debacles appeared to be difficult but not impossible.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Western Australia did an exceptional job in organising this production of H.M.S. Pinafore. The show featured impressive singers and actors. The orchestra in front of the stage didn’t dominate the performers with their musical backing and the sound effects from the percussion section were perfectly timed.

H.M.S. Pinafore seems to cater for all ages however I couldn’t help noticing that the mature audience members had a stronger appreciation; possibly due to their familiarity with the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The formal language in the script was overwhelming at times and it was a bit difficult to comprehend the complex song lyrics during the ensemble performances. Another mature aspect was the occasionally dated sense of humour e.g. there were a few giggles about the two French soldiers who were obviously gay because of their dance mannerisms.

Memorable characters who proved to be crowd favourites included the sailor known as Dick Deadeye (David Cosgrove) with his crooked hand, slanted limp, purposely ill-timed choreography and his knack for telling other characters what they didn’t want to hear. Sir Joseph’s clever dialogue and pompous attitude was also well received.

H.M.S. Pinafore is playing at the Dolphin Theatre at the University of Western Australia from 18 – 27 May 2017 at 7.30pm nightly. There will also be matinee sessions on 20 and 27 May which will commence at 2pm. Tickets cost $59.90 for standard, $49.90 for concession card holders, $34.90 for full time students, and $19.90 for children. Bookings can be made through the TicketsWA website or by calling 6488 2440 from 12pm – 4pm weekdays.

For more information about H.M.S. Pinafore please visit the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Western Australia website.

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