The curtain opened on a beautiful set depicting the midships main deck and quarterdeck of the “Pinafore”, which was rather fancifully designed, but worked very well for the production. The Pinafore sailors opened the show with “We Sail the Ocean Blue” in what turned out to be the show’s most ambitious dance number. The sailors accompanied themselves percussively with mop handles in a fashion informed by the STOMP phenomenon. Much of the rest of the choreography for the show isn’t so much dancing as moving/clowning to the music, but that’s appropriate for G&S and works well in this production. Gary Biggle as Sir Joseph Porter looked very well in the role and lead the clowning on such numbers as “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore” with such panache that one overlooked the utter silliness of introducing conga/Macarena moves to the general frivolity.
All of the performers sang well, especially Alicia Berneche as Josephine, Captain Corcoran’s daughter, who has a truly operatic voice. I also liked the fact that Robb Smith as Dick Deadeye sang out strongly and clearly, without attempting to affect any kind of Robert Newton/Long John Silver growl, as I have heard some performers do. Other performances I particularly enjoyed were John Muriello as Corcoran, and Rhonda Rae Busch as Hebe, the leader of Sir Joseph’s “sisters, cousins, and aunts.” There were some fun bits added, such as the raucous crow call that always greeted the pronunciation of the name “Dick Deadeye”, which I think may be a reference to the recent production of “Young Frankenstein” and the “Frau Blucher” gag; and the way in which Sir Joseph and Captain Corcoran dealt with the seemingly interminable encores to “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore,” a custom I personally find obnoxious.
There was not a lot of emotional depth to this production, the emphasis being on the light, fast and funny, but that was more than good enough. It was a very enjoyable afternoon of the old G&S.
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