Show Photographs

28th Festival Season - 2006

H.M.S. Pinafore

By: Gilbert and Sullivan
Premiere: Opéra Comique, London, May 25, 1878
Performance Dates:
  • June 17th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • June 23rd, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • June 27th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 1st, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 5th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 9th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 13th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 27th, 2006 - 8:00pm
  • August 2nd, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 4th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 12th, 2006 - 8:00pm

For more than a century, the comic operas of William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan have delighted audiences all around the world. H.M.S. Pinafore, the fourth collaboration between Gilbert & Sullivan, was their first blockbuster hit. It ran for 571 performances and became a source of popular quotations, such as the exchange: "What, never?" "Well, hardly ever!" Also popular was the verse: "For in spite of all temptations / To belong to other nations / He remains an Englishman." Popular songs include Sir Joseph's patter song, When I Was a Lad, and Never Mind the Why and Wherefore, a trio by the Captain, Josephine, and Sir Joseph.

High spirits prevail aboard the H.M.S. Pinafore as Little Buttercup distributes sweets and tobacco to the crew. Ralph Rackstraw's mind, however, is on Josephine, Captain Corcoran's daughter. He is in love with her even though she is socially unattainable. Unaware of his affection for her, Josephine is in love with Ralph, but pride prevents her from revealing this because of his low station. Josephine is sought in marriage by Sir Joseph Porter but chooses not to acknowledge his advances.

Sir Joseph holds strong views about the treatment of sailors. He maintains that a British sailor is any man's equal (excepting his own) and should always be treated with politeness without recourse to bad language or abuse. This inspires Ralph to declare his love for Josephine, who soon forgets her pride and confesses her true feelings to him. Plans are quickly made to smuggle the couple ashore that night to be married. Dick Deadeye tries to foil the union of the couple by betraying their intentions to the Captain; as a result, they are caught before they can leave the ship. Confusion ensues, and Little Buttercup saves the situation when she confesses how, in her youth, she had fostered two babies from opposite ends of the social ladder. In the course of caring for them, she had mixed them up. The baby from the poor background was Captain Corcoran, and the other was Ralph. Upon hearing this, Sir Joseph immediately loses all interest in Josephine and gladly resigns her to Ralph, now Captain Rackstraw.

H.M.S. Pinafore is a lively show the entire family is sure to enjoy.

Ohio Light Opera Sets Sail with Gilbert and Sullivan�s 'H.M.S. Pinafore'

Ted Christopher directs show, which opens Saturday, June 17, at Freedlander Theatre

WOOSTER, Ohio � The Ohio Light Opera invites all Gilbert and Sullivan fans to set sail with Ted Christopher as he directs the duo�s famous "H.M.S Pinafore," which opens on Saturday, June 17 (2 p.m.) at The College of Wooster's Freedlander Theatre (329 E. University St.).

British librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, two of the most famous names in operetta, had a unique professional relationship that lasted more than 20 years and produced a number of memorable operettas. These include Ohio Light Opera favorites "Pirates of Penzance," "Yeomen of the Guard," and "The Mikado," as well as "The Gondoliers," which is also being performed by the company this season.

"Pinafore is the best of Gilbert and Sullivan because of the whimsical side of the story and the fun music," said Ohio Light Opera Artistic Director Steven Daigle. "It has the perfect formula and the entire performance is less than two hours long."

Debuting on May 25, 1878, at the Opera Comique in London, "Pinafore," a.k.a. "The Lass that Loved a Sailor," was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth collaboration and their first blockbuster hit. Just months after its release, England developed "Pinafore-mania."

"Pinafore" is a story about love between different social classes. Josephine, the captain�s daughter, falls in love with able seaman Ralph Rackstraw, played jointly by Grant Knox and Adam Lloyd. Sarah Asmar and Anne Marie Frohnmayer share the role of Josephine. The handsome Rackstraw pales in comparison to the distinguished Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the man Josephine's father, Captain Corcoran, has chosen for her to marry. Director Ted Christopher plays the haughty Sir Porter. Patrick Howle and Gary Moss split the role of Captain Corcoran.

Ralph and Josephine's plan to elope is thwarted by the villainous Dick Deadeye, another sailor onboard, played alternately by Cory Clines and Tyler Oliphant. Despite the serious overtones, "Pinafore" isn't lacking in humor by any means. "A G&S production never takes itself seriously," said Daigle. "The audience's expectation is to have a good time."

Switched babies is another popular Gilbert and Sullivan theme, according to Daigle. In "Pinafore" no one is who he or she appears to be. Only Buttercup, a Portsmouth bumboat woman played by Ashley Evans and Elizabeth Mitchell, knows the dark secret about the Captain and Ralph's true identities. Despite the mix-up, the end finds a happy union for the lovers. "There are no serious dramas this year," said Daigle about OLO's 2006 season. "We're just trying to provide an escape, two to three hours of fun and entertainment."

Historic preservation is also a big part of Ohio Light Opera's mission. The combination of Gilbert's whimsical text and Sullivan's music creates a window for modern audiences to see into the political and social culture of the Victorian era. Class conflict was another popular theme of G&S, according to Daigle. "The intrigue between the sailors is the real attraction to this piece," he said. Silliness abounds as Porter, the arrogant and grossly under-qualified head of the British Navy, sings about the equality of all men, saying, "A British sailor is any man's equal � excepting mine." The sailors onboard the "Pinafore" take his claims seriously, the result of which shocks the refined Porter.

Although never successfully brought to the silver screen, "Pinafore's" memorable songs, such as "When I Was a Lad," "A British Tar," and "For he is an Englishman" have been parodied by hit television shows like "The Simpsons" and "The Family Guy."

Article written by Laura McHugh
Production Team
ConductorJason Altieri
Stage DirectorTed Christopher
ChoreographerCarol Hageman
Assistant DirectorStephen Carr
Set DesignerShelley Barish
Costume DesignerDaniel Jones
Lighting DesignerShannon Schweitzer
Josephine, The Captain's DaughterSarah Asmar
Anne Marie Frohnmayer
Ralph Rackstraw, Able SeamanGrant Knox
Adam Lloyd
Sir Joseph Porter, K. C. B., First Lord of the AdmiraltyTed Christopher
Captain Corcoran, Commander of the H. M. S. PinaforePatrick Howle
Gary Moss
Cousin Hebe, Sir Joseph's First CousinStina Marie Eberhardt
Dick Deadeye, Able SeamanCory Clines
Tyler Oliphant
Bill Bobstay, Boatswain's MateKevin Blickfeldt
Bob Becket, Carpenter's MateDavid Krohn
Little Buttercup, A Portsmouth Bumboat WomanAshly Evans
Elizabeth Mitchell
Mid-Ship miteJack Neill
Women of the Ensemble: Sarah Asmar, Donata Cucinotta, Robin DeLeon, Stina Marie Eberhardt, Ashly Evans, Kemper LeCroy Florin, Anne Marie Frohnmayer, Sahara Glasener-Boles, Amanda Kingston, Danielle McCormick, Elizabeth Mitchell, Valerie Hart Nelson and Jill Anna Ponasik.
Men of the Ensemble: Jacob Allen, Jack Beetle, Kevin Blickfeldt, Anthony Buck, Peter Bush, Ted Christopher, Cory Clines, Nicholas Hartley, Patrick Howle, Grant Knox, David Krohn, Adam Lloyd, Gary Moss, Jack Neill, Tyler Nelson, Tyler Oliphant and Brian Tanner.