G&S ‘HMS Pinafore’ docks
Ahoy! Ship ahoy!. HMS Pinafore steams into the Regent on Broadway this Friday April 22.
Gilbert & Sullivan’s comedic musical Savoy operas poked the borax at just about everything. From lampooning the class system and bumbling bureaucracy to stuffed shirt patriotism and individual foibles, their 19th century masterpieces are still tilting at and hitting the mark.
Modern musical theatre owes much to the duo, who in real life could hardly stand one another, but together managed to make stage magic full of wit, silliness and whimsicality.
Starring George Henare as Sir Joseph, Tizane McEvoy as Josephine with Tainui Kuru as Ralph, Helen Medlyn as Buttercup and Paul Barrett as the captain, HMS Pinafore is directed by Geraldine Brophy. Featuring the still well-known numbers Little Buttercup and He is an Englishman, HMS Pinafore was one of the first Gilbert & Sullivan shows to tour New Zealand courtesy of the Riccardi Opera Company in 1879, only a year after its London premiere.
Forbidden and star-crossed love, matters of class and identity drive this enduringly popular operetta, also known by its sub-title The Lass that Loved A Sailor.
Aboard the good ship HMS Pinafore (the ship being named after an apron is all part of the extended joke), the captain’s daughter, Josephine, has fallen in love with Ralph Rackstraw, a lower-class sailor. Ah, but her father, Captain Corcoran desires her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, no less.
Josephine is prepared to put her feelings aside and abide by her father’s wishes at first. But when Sir Joseph starts professing equality for all (except, of course, no one is equal to him), his words encourage Josephine and Ralph to flout the conventional notions of social order.
Declaring their love, the pair make plans to elope. However, the sour able-seaman Dick Deadeye dobs them in, and it’s the ignominy of the brig for for Ralph. Then comes the inevitable surprise disclosure which causes a complete turnabout in fortune.
HMS Pinafore makes Palmerston North a port city just for one night. Bookings for the Regent on Broadway performance are through TicketDirect.
The star-studded cast in the touring production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore (from left) Tainui Kuru, Tizane McEvoy, George Henare, Helen Medlyn and Paul Barrett.