High seas, high Cs


The bass drums, trumpets, and singing sailors inside Mandel Hall echoed throughout the Reynolds Club on Saturday night. To benefit the Department of Music Performance Program, Hyde Park’s Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company partnered with the music department to produce HMS Pinafore, the company's 48th production and its 23rd annual U of C collaboration. Typical of Gilbert and Sullivan’s brand of comedy, the show’s combination of cheerful music and social commentary lightheartedly focused on class status—fitting for the start of finals week. The show was set on the ship against a painted blue sky, and the score was performed by the University's Chamber Orchestra, conducted by musical director William C. White, AB’05.

Directed by Thrisa Hodits, Pinafore spotlights a love triangle between Josephine, the captain's daughter (played by Rebecca Prescott), young sailor Ralph Rackstraw (Matt Edlen), and Sir Joseph, the "ruler of the Queen's Navee" (Howard Timms). Although the cocky Sir Joseph, who claims that “a British sailor is any man’s equal, excepting mine,” hopes to marry Josephine, she is in love with “ignobly born” Ralph. Ralph also loves Josephine, “a lass above his station,” and the characters meander through the concerns of social rank before reaching the requisite happy ending.

First performed in 1878, the opera drew laughs from the mixed-generation audience, and children’s heads bobbed to the music. At the show’s conclusion, a rousing rendition of “God Save the Queen,” the audience rose to salute the British flag.

Ruthie Kott

Photo: Josephine runs into the arms of Ralph Rackstraw while ladies and sailors look on.

March 14, 2007