Singers depart on H.M.S. Pinafore
Saturday, May 10, 2014 06:00 am
St. Albert Singers Guild and Acting Out Musical Theatre are lifting the sails and setting out to conquer the seas on the good ship Pinafore.
Replete with sailors and filled to the gunwale with wit, music and sheer fun, Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore makes a musical comeback on May 14 and 15 at the Arden Theatre.
For artistic director Criselda Mierau, it is a return to an old favourite, an operetta with a silly plot that satirizes British social classes, patriotism, the royal navy and promoting incompetents to positions of power.
“From a director’s point of view, the H.M.S. Pinafore is interesting. It mixes beauty and fiery music with crazy words and a crazy plot,” said Mierau.
The plot takes place on the British ship H.M.S. Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine (Natasha McGarrigle), is in love with a lower class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw (Johannes Irnich).
Captain Corcoran (Mark Nadeau) instead wants her to marry Sir Joseph Porter (Eric Mierau), the First Lord of the Admiralty, a nincompoop who holds the high rank without nautical experience.
At first Josephine follows her father’s dictates. He believes members of the upper class should not mix with the lower classes. However, eventually the pull of love is too strong. Ralph and Josephine decide to go against convention and elope.
The captain discovers their plan and in true Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, a series of unforeseen revelations change the story arc dramatically.
Directed, choreographed and narrated by Timothy Anderson, this period musical is mounted to deliver a clean focus combined with a sharp wit and dramatic irony.
It is further enhanced with a large, full chorus, a cluster of soloists, detailed costumes complete with Victorian dress bustles and imported sailor hats.
“We’ve also recreated a full ship with mast, railing and wheel,” says Carla May, a second soprano in the chorus.
With a nautical set, Pinafore’s musical showstoppers directed by Mierau, are definitely above deck.
May suggests keeping an eye out for showstoppers such as When I was a Lad and A British Tar (seaman).
“British Tar is full of energy and emotion. It’s quick, moving and energized,” May said.
The fresh and imaginative staging and robust vocals are amplified by live accompaniment. The four musicians banding together are Keat Machtemes (piano), Kevin Andrews (percussion), Sarah Husiman (flute) and Wes Caswell on bass.
“The music is so important. It goes from the depths of despair to the heights of joy and rapture, and it brings out the emotions so much.”
Although the production is about 135 years old, it still strikes a relevant chord for many.
“It’s got something for everyone. It has singing. It has dancing and period costumes. The Gilbert and Sullivan music is delightful and the play is witty. It’s an intelligent opera and it makes you think. You can appreciate it on many levels. If nothing else, you can enjoy it for the silliness and spectacle.”