HMS Pinafore - Review

Reviewed by Ben Oxley

Photo credit to: Ray Wing-Lun

HMS Pinafore
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney
Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre, Shore School, North Sydney
26 September - 4 October, 2014

The ship that is HMS Pinafore sailed into Sydney, with a glorious set and stunning costumes, in a very traditional presentation of this classic. It's important to note that no microphones were used, and we heard every word.

With recent performances of Pirates of Penzance along the North Shore, and music theatre enjoying a resurgence, how was this production going to stand alongside its competition?

The company formerly known as The Savoy Arts Company Inc. are now Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney and gave us a hugely enjoyable performance. Fresh from a lead-up run at Bundanoon and Narrabeen, the cast enjoyed the spacious Smith Auditorium.

Artistic Director Elizabeth Lowrencev shows her experience with G&S
not only directing but choreographing the production. The inherent challenge of using singers with limited dance skills, in period costume is considerable but not here. The effect is very professional and well-coordinated.

From the top brass to the lowly tar, casting was very apt. Sir Joseph Porter (Dean Sinclair) led the way with clever characterisation redolent of Dennis Olsen. He is a stage creature, giving us a funny yet faultlessly-timed performance.

Brendan Iddles as Captain Corcoran showed experience in timing and the vocal writing for his role. His assured portrayal brought the male ensemble alive. He could have sung Ralph Rackstraw, but Michael Handy did, and definitely looked the part. He will benefit from some vocal development but his tone warmed and charmed us as he progressed.

Lovely vignettes by Gordon Costello as Dick Deadeye, Anthony Mason's Boatswain, and Matt Cobb-Clark enthusiastically sung Carpenter.

Josephine, played by Sarah Arnold, captured the fraught girl poised to marry Sir Joseph with some timely exchanges and well-controlled singing.

Cousin Hebe, sung by Ella Arundel and Little Buttercup as Anne-Louise Finlayson gave valuable support to the ensemble and added much mirth.

The chorus was very much the cornerstone of the show. The sailors attention to detail in stagecraft led the way in showing strength in depth. The ladies chorus added a sunny brightness with attractive movement.

Musical Director Rod Mounjed is to be commended in bringing out the bel canto aspects, drawing fine playing from his orchestra. The rest of the creative team can be proud of their work on this production.

She is docked at the Smith Theatre until Saturday 4 October - jump aboard!

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