Printable CopyHMS PINAFORE
Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA
The Arts Theatre
Until 04 May 2019

Review by John Wells

“HMS Pinafore” is a frothy confection of an operetta: bawdy sailors, giggling girls, secret forbidden love, pompous idiots and babies swapped at birth. It is silly, breezy and light.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production succeeds creditably as a competent and likeable show.

The production looks sumptuous: an impressive, beautifully-constructed set (John Axe and Barry Hill) and lovely, stylish costumes (co-ordinated by Helen Snoswell) give the show a professional sheen.

Musical Director Jacqui Maynard has done an excellent job with her orchestra; the sound is well-modulated and tuneful with a rousing tempo. The strong orchestral success is the bedrock of this production.

Director Barry Hill has chosen a straight-forward reading: there is almost no nod to modernity – no updated lyrics with an eye on current events, no playful mucking around, just a traditional approach to this much-loved musical. This means the numerous opportunities for humour and social comment are missed, leading to an overall atmosphere of genial blandness.

There are some notable principal performances: Megan Doherty is powerful and funny as Josephine, pining for the love of a lower-class sailor. She sings with control and is always commanding on stage. Brad Martin is suitably batty as the accidental Lord of the Admiralty and squeezes laughs at every opportunity. David Visentin (Captain Corcoran), Ian Brown (Bill Bobstay), Eve McMillan (Little Buttercup) and Jemimah Lanyon (Cousin Hebe) all give good support.

The ensemble singing is generally good. (The male chorus has timing and pitch problems early, but settles well.) Highlights are “I am the Captain of the Pinafore”, “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore” (a lovely, warmly amusing three-way gavotte), “He is an Englishman” and the finale “Oh Joy, Oh Rapture Unforeseen”.

With some strong singing and a good sense of fun, this is an amiable amateur production.