by Terrance Mc Arthur
Political crony rewards and class division: the stuff of which today’s headlines are made. Who would expect to find these themes in an operetta that’s almost 150 years old?
Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore—or—The Lass That Loved a Sailor has sailed into port at the Good Company Players’ 2nd Space Theatre, 928 E. Olive Avenue, docking there through April 23. Director J. Daniel Herring has recruited a crew of powerful leads to set forth on the familiar waters.
The plot is as simple as it can get. Josephine (Meg Clark), the daughter of the Captain, loves Ralph Rackstraw (James Schott), a common sailor. She is pledged to Sir Joseph (Jeff Dinmore), First Lord of the Admiralty. A dockside vendor, Little Buttercup (Tracy Jones), harbors a secret longing and a hidden secret that will turn all things topsy-turvy. Meanwhile, Dick Deadeye (Jacob Sherwood) hates everybody because he’s ugly…and a running gag in the production. Everything gets hopelessly complicated, but all is well by the Finale, which is the way a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta is supposed to end.
Clark possesses a soaring voice that shimmers under Rebecca Sarkisian’s vocal direction. She is light, delicate, and presents herself as every inch a proper British maiden. Schott is youthful, vital, and commanding as a young sailor who knows his duty. The pair of paramours perform effortlessly with enthusiasm. Mattox has been a reliable supporting player at GCP for many years. As Captain Corcoran, he gets a major showcase for his abilities. He is brave and flustered at different points of “I Am the Captain of the Pinafore,” adamant as he tries to persuade his daughter to marry Sir Joseph, and coy as he and Little Buttercup flirt.
A vision in yellow in Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed’s flouncy, bouncy costume design, Jones is a queen of the stage, whether purveying her wares or hiding her secrets. Each movement is comic grace, each expression is a joy to watch.
Dinmore firmly plows his way, straight and true, through “When I Was a Lad,” painting an unerring portrait of an incompetent bureaucrat. Sherwood gleefully defies the niceties of Victorian society, sneering, scowling, and flashing what lies beneath his eyepatch (Of course nobody likes him; he’s not perfect or of noble birth like the others). Sarah Mugridge leads the women’s chorus of Sir Joseph’s relations with verve and authority. Daniel Longoria and Anthony teNyenhuis are stalwart sailors backing Ralph on the hymn-like “A British Tar.”
David Pierce’s set aims the Pinafore directly at the audience, with solid foundations for scampering, clambering, and nautical pantomime. H.M.S. Pinafore is frothy, light, silly fun, and you should board it before it leaves port.
For tickets and further information, contact www.gcplayers.com, or call (559) 266-9494.
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