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BWW Review: HMS PINAFORE at ARTS Theatre

BWW Review: HMS PINAFORE at ARTS Theatre Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Wednesday 1st May 2019.

W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan wrote a good few comic operettas together, many of them, including the two-act HMS Pinafore, or The Lass that Loved a Sailor, proving extremely popular, this one also being their first international hit. The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of South Australia is presenting this one to open its 2019 season. Dating from 25th May 1878, this was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth production, following the not quite so successful work, The Sorcerer.

Director Barry Hill, musical director Jacqui Maynard, choreographer Celeste Barone, have left no stone unturned in creating a very lively, fun, and well-polished production. Maynard has recruited a fine group of musicians for her orchestra and has rehearsed them well. Hill also designed the very impressive ship's deck set, with some very solid rigging, which is lit well by lighting designer, Tim Bates.

Captain Corcoran, Commander of H.M.S. Pinafore, plans to marry off his daughter, Josephine, to The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, First Lord of the Admiralty, a man of wealth, status, and power. She, however, only has eyes for the lowly sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, reluctantly, though, accepting her duty to do as her father wishes. Mrs. Cripps, nicknamed Little Buttercup, is a Portsmouth bumboat-woman who is harbouring a guilty secret that will affect them all, and she is also in love with the Captain, but their different social classes keep them apart. It is not giving anything away, after 141 years, to say that all ends well.

It is interesting to note that the role of Ralph is now generally played by a young, often athletic singer, of comparable age to Josephine but, in fact, Ralph is, literally, old enough to be her father, as the deus ex machina, a feature of all of their operettas, is based in the fact that he and the Captain were babies at the same time.

The Captain is sung by David Visentin, giving a fine interpretation of the role and singing up a storm, and Brad Martin plays The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, First Lord of the Admiralty, bringing lots of laughs to the role of the pompous and self-important Sea Lord.

The Captain's daughter, Josephine, is played by Megan Doherty who doesn't merely sing, but opens her mouth and unleashes her superb, powerful operatic voice, coupling her performance with superior acting skills, born of her involvement in numerous genres within the performing arts.

Ralph Rackstraw is played by James Nicholson who fills the role with energy and enthusiasm as the love-struck seaman. He has an excellent voice and paired well in the vocals with Doherty, as well as impressing in his solos.

Eve McMillan played Buttercup, bringing more hilarity to the production and delighting with her rendition of her opening song in which she introduces herself, I'm called Little Buttercup.

There is strong support in the minor roles and in the men's chorus, playing the jolly Jack tars, and the women's chorus, portraying the sycophantic entourage of sisters, cousins, and aunts of the Sea Lord. It all adds up to a fine production of this old G&S favourite,with enough touches to appeal to a modern audience.

This is a very short season, the production is to close on Saturday 4th May, but you might still be lucky enough to get tickets, if you hurry.

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From This Author Barry Lenny