Volume 93, Issue 91

Wednesday, March 22, 2000


Doors translates well from era to era

Strong cast helps Pinafore sail

Dr. Laura prescribes bad medicine

Rollins rocks, de Bussac rolls

Strong cast helps Pinafore sail

©Casey Lessard/Gazette

By Matt Pearson
Gazette Staff

Long before Leonardo DiCaprio set sail in Titanic, the Gilbert and Sullivan stage musical H.M.S Pinafore was the ultimate love story between two young people from different walks of life.

The musical, which is over two hours long, features a newly-discovered scene which has never before been performed for a live audience. The show, directed by Elizabeth Van Doorne, features an impressive cast, crew and orchestra, conducted by Marianne Holmes.

After a lengthy musical overture, the performance begins with a group of sailors preparing their ship. The sailors are an excitable lot, tantalized by the entrance of the bawdy Madame Buttercup and her faithful sidekicks, – a trio of scantily-clad prostitutes.

The audience soon meets a melancholic sailor named Ralph, who longs to marry the captain's daughter despite their obvious class difference. Ralph laments that Josephine must honour a previously-arranged agreement to marry another man, Sir Joseph Porter, who claims to be the "Monarch of the Sea."

The pompous captain Corcoran makes his entrance followed by his daughter, the young maiden Josephine. The audience learns that Josephine bares in her soul an unrequited love for Ralph as well as a disinterest for the charismatic Sir Joseph Porter. The cast is rounded out by Dick Deadeye, a bitter, blindfolded sailor who offers adept comic relief.

In a scene that closely resembles the much heralded balcony scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Ralph and Josephine reveal their feelings for on another to the audience, only to later realize the other is present. When Ralph expresses his love for Josephine, she turns sharply against her feelings and brushes him aside.

Throughout the second act, the story unfolds as Ralph and Josephine find a way to be together. It ripens with standard musical fare including mischievous plans, mistaken identities, confused pasts and of course, the ubiquitous happy ending so commonplace in all things Gilbert and Sullivan.

Although sometimes lacking energy, the cast succeed in building an enjoyable show. However, some vocalists are often overpowered by the strong, solid sound of the orchestra and some cast members appear out of sync and sloppy, which could easily be amended with some choreographic tweaking.

Otherwise, the show features some outstanding performances. Melanie Gall, who plays Josephine, is a talented and capable vocalist while Jeanine Henderson, who plays Cousin Hebe, brings a soft, light voice and corkscrew curls to her character. Tom Stewart maintains excellent energy throughout the show as the boatswain, leading the sailors in various musical numbers. Finally, the comic efforts of both Madame Buttercup (Wendy Ewert) and Deadeye (Chris Wood) add a much-needed humorous dimension to the show.

Overall, H.M.S Pinafore is quite entertaining. With its lively music, creative set, beautiful costumes and eager cast, it is surely another success for Theatre Western.

H.M.S Pinafore plays at 8 p.m. nightly at Talbot Theatre until March 25.

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