Setting the Scene

H.M.S. Pinafore, or The Lass that Loved a Sailor, is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy Operas, and the first big hit by Gilbert and Sullivan. It opened at the Opera Comique in London on May 25 1878 for a run of 571 performances, which was the second longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time (after the operetta Les Cloches de Corneville). H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourth operatic collaboration. Drawing on several of his earlier “Bab Ballad” poems, Gilbert imbued H.M.S. Pinafore with mirth and silliness to spare. The opera’s gentle satire reprises and builds on a theme introduced in The Sorcerer – love between members of different social classes. The opera also pokes good-natured fun at the Royal Navy and, in themes to be repeated in the later operas, parliamentary politics and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. The title of the work itself is humorous, as it juxtaposes the name of a little girl’s garment, pinafore (which sounds like “semaphore”), with the symbol of a naval war ship. The plot revolves around a naval captain’s daughter who is in love with a lower-class foremast hand (a common sailor, well below officer rank), even though her father intends her to marry the First Lord of the Admiralty, the cabinet minister in charge of the Royal Navy. As with most of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise twist changes everything dramatically near the end of the story.

The Production team

  • Produced & Directed – Dave Shepherd
  • Accompanist – Ann Szreter
  • Stage Manager – Rodney Ford
  • Assistant Stage Manager – Alan Carlile
  • Assisted by – Pat and Susan Ford
  • Lighting – Alastair Mackenzie
  • Make Up – David Johnson / Charles Scott
  • Costumes – Haslemere Wardrobe
  • Wardrobe Mistress – Sue Spittle
  • Sets – Stage Sets Limited
  • Prompt – Sue Goodes
  • Box Office Manageress – Janet Shepherd
  • Front of House – Clare Shepherd
  • Photography – Gerald Jones

The Cast

  • The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter KCB (First Lord of the Admiralty) – Brian Farley
  • Captain Corcoran (Commanding H .M .S. Pinafore) – Trefor Davis
  • Ralph Rackstraw (Able Seaman) – Anthony Morris
  • Dick Deadeye (Able Seaman) – Neal Shepherd
  • Bill Bobstay (Boatswain’s Mate) – Les Rose
  • Bob Becket (Carpenter’s Mate) – Trevor Wheble
  • Tom Tucker (Midshipman) – Susan Hake
  • Tim Tucker (Midshipman) – Sarah Hake
  • Sergeant Of Marines – Paul Allen
  • Josephine (The Captain’s Daughter) – Winifred Rogers
  • Hebe (Sir Joseph’s First Cousin) – Sue Spittle
  • Mrs Cripps (Little Buttercup a Portsmouth Bumboat Woman) – Nan Arnott
  • First Lords Cousins And Aunts – Doris Porter / Kate Bottomley / Dian Stevens/ Amy Dishman / Joan Gwinnett / Sharon Morris/ Debbie Stevens / Vivienne Arnold / Kathie Wheble/ Pat Hake / Trish Richards / Alex Roman
  • Sailors / Marines – Bob Ware / Arthur Howard / Matthew Stevens/ Ian Caldecourt / Mike Arnold / John Birkhead / Mark Longhurst / Richard Seagroatt
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