A comic operetta
Libretto by Sir W.S. Gilbert
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Stage Director & Choreographer Rudy Hogenmiller
Produced by Light Opera Works
At Cahn Auditorium, Evanston
“I grew so rich
That I was sent
By a pocket borough
I always voted
At my party’s call,
And I never
Thought of thinking
For myself at all.
I thought so little,
They rewarded me
By making me the Ruler
Of the Queen’s Navee!”
Lyrics from “When I Was A Lad” by W.S. Gilbert
Excellent production and rich voices fuel this ship
Revisiting his first assignment as artistic director, Rudy Hogenmiller at Light Opera Works sailed the good ship Pinafore into a rollicking sea of comic adventure. With a splendid set by Adam Veness aptly depicting a British warship complete with mast and cannon, Gilbert and Sullivan’s first hit show (running for 571 performances in 1878) H.M. S. Pinafore is a fun-filled evening of terrific harmonies, excellent sounds from the 26 piece orchestra, nautical inspired dances and many funny moments. Light Opera Works’ production features a full complement of sailors together with an assortment of female relatives of the First Lord of the Admiralty.
This comic operetta satirizes the snobbery and hypocrisy of Victorian English social system while poking fun at traditional serious opera and the image of the British Navy.The Gilbert and Sullivan story pits good breeding against true love. This light-hearted work never takes itself seriously giving it a tone of lampoonery that works to produce funny moments and cute harmonies.
From the opening song. “We Sail the Ocean Blue” we heard the infectious G & S melodies and begin humming the refrains. Dawn Bless belts her aria “I’m Called Little Buttercup” with a mixture of excellent operatic voice and salty sarcasm. Michael Cavalieri leads the crew with his rich voice in the playful “I am the Captain of the Pinafore.” Dane M. Thomas, as Ralph the able seaman, has the looks and the golden tenor voice as the seamen in love with the Captain’s daughter Josephine sung in classic form by the magnificent Sarah Kelly. Together they land several fine love songs and we just know that they’ll land in each others arms before the evening is over.
The highlight of act one is the whimsical witty tune “When I was a Lad” wherein Sir Joseph Porter recalls how he became First Lord of the Admiralty. James Harms is the perfect comic as Porter with his unique blend of lovable slapstick and nice voice to land this difficult patter song with its long rhyming phrases. He thrills the audience with his wonderful presentation as the entire ensemble repeats his rhymes and gestures. Harms smoothly delivers the faster reprise of the song. This number alone makes the show worth seeing. It was terrific!
Will Josephine convince her father that she doesn’t love Porter but is devoted to Ralph? Buttercup rescues her and wins her man (the Captain) after we hear more ditties, ballads and the roaring “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore” trio with Harmes, Cavalieri and Kelly frolicking in delight. The “I am an Englishman” number sums up this whimsical operetta—it so British, so cute, so hum-able that it is pure joy. The production values of Light Opera Works’ production had rich costumes and sweet dancing from the sailors that enhanced the terrific singing and the hilarity. .But, by far the fine singing by soprano Sarah Kelly, baritone Michael Cavalieri and, especially tenor Dane M. Thomas, were the highlight of this tight flowing production. The full orchestra sounded outstanding.
This is the perfect show to introduce your youngsters to the magic of Gilbert and Sullivan. I was lucky enough to have a grandfather who played G & S (and Victor Herbert) constantly from his collection of 78’s. I knew the G & S scores long before ever seeing them on stage. Don’t miss this opportunity to treat you kids to this marvelous classic. Kudos to Light Opera Works for remounting this classic operetta. Don’t miss this wonderful richly sung production.
At Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St. Evanston, IL, csll 847-920-5360, www.musictheaterworks.com, Sunday, June 9 at 2 pm,
Wednesday, June 12 at 2 pm, Friday, June 14 at 8 pm, Saturday, June 15 at 8 pm, Sunday, June 16 at 2 pm, tickets $32, $48, $68, $77, $92,running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission.