Vancouver Opera’s production of HMS Pinafore sets sail under the realm of a new queen at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor has been a fan favourite since its debut in 1878. Much of its satirical look at class structure and patriotism, authority of the Navy, duty and love still resonate today with the director of this production, Brenna Corner, collaborating with writer and comedian JD Derbyshire to update the libretto for a more modern sensibilities. Highlighting the glaring sexism, ridiculous gender stereotypes, power and patriarchy that were matter of fact in the Victorian age. Arthur Sullivan’s music is just as catchy now as then, leaving many humming a happy tune as they departed the theatre. Even if you don’t think you know the operetta, chances are you’ve heard songs like I’m called Little Buttercup, I am the Captain of the Pinafore, or He is an Englishman somewhere in your past.
Overhearing some intermission chatter, some audience members felt the dialogue updates landed a bit too directly like punchlines breaking away W.S. Gilbert’s original satirical subtlety but they worked for others, creating new talking points between generations.
Director Brenna Corner steers the ship, and its mighty crew with dozens in the ensemble, deftly and swiftly through the comic waters. Keeping its quick pace and energy to the finale, making the 2.5 hour production zip along. The ship itself takes over the whole stage, another stunning set as we expect from Vancouver Opera productions. Alaia Hammer’s costumes build on the authenticity of the sailors and shipmates, while updating the women’s to contrast their restricting corsets and bustles with trousers and pockets. C
The cast and chorus fill the stage even in intimate moments Megan Latham as Buttercup leads as den mother to us all, with Marcus Nance’s Dick Deadeye keeping up with the changing times. Caitlin Wood brings power to Josephine, as the character now finds her own power, to set her own rules with her love Ralph Rockstraw (Ernesto Ramirez) and father Captain Corcoran played by Jorell Williams. Both men making their Vancouver Opera debuts. A stand-out as Sir Joseph Porter of the Admiralty, Peter McGillivary plays the over the top character to full hilt, surrounded by ‘his sisters, cousins and aunts’ of the Vancouver Opera Chorus.
Vancouver Opera’s HMS Pinafore plays two more performances, Saturday May 7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday May 8 at 2pm. Tickets are still on sale on vancouveropera.ca, don’t miss your chance to catch this season finale production of Vancouver Opera.