New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players – HMS Pinafore

Gilbert & Sullivan
HMS Pinafore, or The Lass That Loved a Sailor – Comic Opera in Two Acts [Libretto by W. S. Gilbert, music by Sir Arthur Sullivan]

The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB – Stephen Quint
Captain Corcoran – Richard Alan Holmes
Ralph Rackstraw – Colin Fitzmaurice
Dick Deadeye – Louis Dall’Ava
Bill Bobstay – William Whitefield
Bob Becket – David Auxier
Josephine – Laurelyn Watson Chase
Cousin Hebe – Victoria Devany
Little Buttercup –Angela Smith
Sergeant of Marines – Paul Sigrist

Chorus and Orchestra of New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players
Albert Bergeret

Albert Bergeret – Stage Director & Set Designer
Gail J. Wofford – Costume Designer
Sally Small – Lighting Designer
Bill Fabris – Choreographer

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 8 June, 2008
Venue: New York City Center

Stephen Quint as Sir Joseph Porter and Richard Holmes as Capt. Corcoran in 'H.M.S. Pinafore'Photograph: Lee Snider-Photo ImagesHigh spirits were the order of the day at this performance of the tune-rich “HMS Pinafore”, one of four Gilbert & Sullivan operettas being performed by the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players in its two-week long visit to New York City Center. Now in its third decade, the troupe’s determination and devotion to G & S has never been in doubt.

“HMS Pinafore” offers a timeless score, full of infectious melodies, paired with a well-constructed, whimsical libretto. The simple but charmingly entertaining plot centers around Josephine, a naval captain’s daughter who is in love with Ralph Rackstraw, a seaman on HMS Pinafore. Ralph returns Josephine’s affection, but her father, Captain Corcoran, has plans for her to marry the stuffy Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Sir Joseph is somewhat concerned by Josephine’s lack of interest, but the Captain claims this is due to Josephine’s awe of Porter’s upper-class station. As with many operettas in the Savoyard canon, a surprising revelation near the end of the story changes the course of events, and everything comes to a happy ending.

This Sunday matinee performance displayed the Company’s familiar blend of broad comedy and zeal. Gilbert’s libretto calls for a single-unit set representing the quarter-deck of HMS Pinafore, off Portsmouth. Albert Bergeret’s attractive stage-design looked fresh and bright in Sally Small’s efficient lighting. Gail J. Wofford’s costumes were appropriately colorful. Bill Fabris’s choreography was vibrant, and the choruses sang with full and fervent tone. Though only rarely inventive, Albert Bergeret’s stage direction kept the farce going with the same bright energy he applied to his conducting, and the performance moved along smoothly and efficiently.

All the singers approached the music with skill and respect for the creators’ intentions, their enunciation never faltering. Laurelyn Watson Chase as Josephine and Colin Fitzmaurice as Ralph made an attractive and charmingly musical pair as the young lovers. Stephen Quint was perfectly cast in the patter role of Sir Joseph Porter; small, sprightly and gifted with an appealingly light-textured voice, he delivered Gilbert’s words with wonderfully crisp articulation in a sometimes scene-stealing performance. Richard Alan Holmes was genial and lyrical as the befuddled Captain Corcoran, and Angela Smith a robust-sounding, appropriately “plump and pleasing” Buttercup. As the comically menacing Dick Deadeye, Louis Dall’Ava offered a very welcome measure of pungency. Victoria Devany gave a vocally strong, competently comic performance in the relatively small role of Cousin Hebe. The other principals – William Whitefield as Bill Bobstay, David Auxier as Bob Becket, and Paul Sigrist as the Sergeant of Marines – all made excellent contributions.

  • This performance was preceded by one on June 6 and followed by ones on June 10 & 11

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