Beard the an­swer to cap­tain’s call

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

SEC­OND-YEAR UWA medicine stu­dent Wil­liam James Smith has so far re­sisted pres­sure to shave his beard for clin­i­cal place­ments and at­tributes the de­ci­sion to his cast­ing as Cap­tain Cor­co­ran in The Gil­bert and Sul­li­van So­ci­ety of WA’S pro­duc­tion HMS Pi­nafore.

“I be­lieve I was beard-cast,” Smith, of Craw­ley, said.

“I had it when I au­di­tioned and am sure they saw the beard and thought ‘This man has to be put in a po­si­tion of au­thor­ity’. My beard will be sign­ing au­to­graphs at the end of the show.”

Smith moved from Vic­to­ria to Perth to study and has per­formed lead roles with Gil­bert and Sul­li­van Opera Vic­to­ria.

This will be his first pro­duc­tion with The Gil­bert and Sul­li­van So­ci­ety of WA af­ter al­low­ing him­self a year to set­tle into his stud­ies.

“It’s a lit­tle bit hec­tic and re­quires a fair bit of plan­ning, but there are quite a few par­ents do­ing my course, in­clud­ing mums with small chil­dren,” Smith said.

“So I fig­ured if they could fit it all in, I could do this.”

HMS Pi­nafore was the in­au­gu­ral pro­duc­tion for the so­ci­ety in 1951 and it re­turns with the 1878 comic opera that be­came Gil­bert and Sul­li­van’s first in­ter­na­tional hit.

“The story be­hind it is that love lev­els all ranks,” Smith said.

“It’s set on­board the ship HMS Pi­nafore and my char­ac­ter Cap­tain Cor­co­ran is not very happy be­cause he wants to marry his daugh­ter Josephine off to the first lord of the ad­mi­ralty, Sir Joseph Porter.

“She’s not re­ally keen on it be­cause un­known to him, she is in love with one of the sailors on his ship.

“He spends the story try­ing to per­suade her that mar­ry­ing Joseph is a good idea and she spends the whole story try­ing to get out of it.”

Smith at­trib­uted the show’s longevity to Sul­li­van’s won­der­ful tunes, Gil­bert’s com­edy ge­nius and the fact it is an opera in English.

“If you can’t speak Ger­man or Ital­ian, then you’re kind of stuck,” he said.

“And com­edy is usu­ally so rel­e­vant to a cer­tain cul­ture at a cer­tain time but Gil­bert has just tapped into some­thing eter­nal.

“I just think the cheek­i­ness of want­ing to take the mickey out of any­one in au­thor­ity will never go away.

“Al­though Sul­li­van is re­ally pa­tri­otic, so you get these stir­ring an­thems that are pos­i­tive to­wards Bri­tain; you’re al­lowed to have your cake and eat it too.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d468750

UWA stu­dent and Craw­ley res­i­dent Wil­liam James Smith as Cap­tain Cor­co­ran and WAAPA grad­u­ate Belinda Cox in the role of Lit­tle But­ter­cup.

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