With previews now underway for HMS Pinafore, Gilbert and Sullivan’s delightful operetta, sails into the Avon Theatre summer festival anticipation is already on the rise.  preview.

Director Lezlie Wade takes us back 100 years to a manor house turned naval convalescent hospital where the staff join their patients in presenting HMS Pinafore as part of a New Year’s Eve celebration, as Britain moves into what will be the final year of World War I. Filled with glorious music and witty dialogue, and anchored by a sweet love story, the musical is pure escapist pleasure.

“Gilbert knew what he was doing when he wrote these comic operas: there are so many levels of enjoyment,” says Ms Wade, who has worked on a number of Stratford projects, including as assistant director of Jesus Christ Superstar. “If you’re an opera lover, there’s the music and beautiful vocal arrangements. If you like wit and satire, there is plenty of that to be had. If you like slapstick comedy, romance and happy endings, you won’t be disappointed.”

HMS Pinafore offers a lighthearted spin on our season’s theme of Identity,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “It is, of course, a charming romantic comedy set to some of the most enjoyable music ever written for the stage, but it too has something to say about the disparity between the social roles imposed on us and who we really are inside. The lovers in the story face each other across a class divide, but come to realize that their core selves are more than the external identities constructed by their circumstances. This is one reason why musical comedies raise our spirits so well: they suggest we can become so much more than we are, or think we are. All you need is love.”

The sensational cast features Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Josephine and Mark Uhre as her beloved Ralph Rackstraw, with Lisa Horner as Little Buttercup, Laurie Murdoch as Sir Joseph Porter and Steve Ross as Captain Corcoran.

The brilliant score, including “We Sail the Ocean Blue,” “I’m Called Little Buttercup” and “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore,” is brought to life by a live 17-piece orchestra, led by Music Director Franklin Brasz.

This production is jointly dedicated to the memories of sound engineer William Gosling and former company member Richard McMillan.

 

For ticket information, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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