Theatre review: HMS Pinafore

By Paul Simei-Barton

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The Gilbert and Sullivan musical masterpiece HMS Pinafore comes to Baycourt this month, telling the story of forbidden love, class and identity, while lampooning people in power.
The Gilbert and Sullivan musical masterpiece HMS Pinafore comes to Baycourt this month, telling the story of forbidden love, class and identity, while lampooning people in power.

Gilbert & Sullivan inevitably evoke nostalgia for a vanished era but Geraldine Brophy's robust, stripped down treatment of HMS Pinafore suggests their inimitable brand of musical mirth could easily win over a new generation.

The production is framed with a vignette of a Victorian touring company washing up in the New Zealand bush and the complex orchestration is replaced by sparkling piano accompaniment from Musical Director Tim Bridgewater.

The chorus of seamen along with a gaggle of 'sisters, and cousins, and aunts,' punch out the songs with the verve of well-drilled choristers and throw themselves in to the boisterous choreography.

George Henare in Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Photo / File
George Henare in Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Photo / File

There is an endearing chemistry between the romantic leads, with Tizane McEvoy's fine soprano expressing the ambivalence of a Captain's daughter who has fallen for a common sailor.

Tainui Kuru makes a dashing hero who has the presumption to aim above his station and he confounds expectations with absurdly eloquent proclamations of love

As Captain of the Pinafore Paul Barrett brings a delightfully light touch to the 'what, never, hardly ever' routine and amusingly uses accents to mark his demotion from captaincy to the crew.

In the plum role of First Lord of the Admiralty, George Henare strikes a fine balance between arrogance and bewilderment as he breathes life into the man who "thought so little, they rewarded me by making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navy"

The leads are stylishly rounded off with Helen Medlyn's brash and brassy Buttercup who manages to be both spooky and sweet as she delivers her oracular revelations.

The storyline, for all its elaborate silliness, is superbly crafted and in lampooning the incompetence of bureaucracy and the pomposity of power ilbert and Sullivan
are as relevant today as they were in the age of Victoria.

What: HMS Pinafore
Where:Bruce Mason Centre, touring NZ to May 1.
Reviewer: Paul Simei-Barton

- NZ Herald

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