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Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney's 'HMS Pinafore' - Review

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by Katherine Thomas (subscribe)
Having spent the last few years living abroad I now wish to rediscover my home city of Sydney to keep that 'travelling feeling' and share my findings with those that might want a bit of inspiration.
Event: -
Live theatre, live music, what's not to love
A taste of the late 1800's British class system graced the stage of SHORE school's Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre on September 26th, as Gilbert and Sullivan's iconic "HMS Pinafore " came to town.
Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

Produced by Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney (formally known as the Savoy Arts Company), the well-known work is successfully brought to the stage by a strong ensemble within the company, and what is delightful to see, many slightly older performers.

Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

So often, amateur performances only engage younger performers so it was truly delightful to see several more mature performers on stage, clearly 'having a ball' so to speak, and lending an element of truth to the production. The accompaniment of a live orchestra was wonderful, as it truly elevated the quality of the show and sounded magnificent in the theatre.

Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

HMS Pinafore follows the story of Captain Corcoran's daughter Josephine, whom is in love with a low-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw. She s unfortunately promised in marriage to the Honourable Sir Joseph Porter. As in all good comedic melodramas, there are trials, tribulations and then of course a revelation that finally allows all parties to live 'happily ever after'.

Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

Whilst a comedic piece, the play grapples with several themes, including 'love conquering all' and the British class system. The witty work is able to investigate these satirically, which in turn allows the audience to come along for the ride and just enjoy a jestful romp rather than a deeper look.

Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

As the action continues, the subtle humour of the first act becomes slightly more overt. It was clear to see that the cast grew in confidence as the performance progressed, which elevated their performances. Dean Sinclair as Sir Joseph Porter is to be commended for his comedic timing, and indeed was the star of the show, particularly when he had the boldness to appear in swimming briefs!

Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

In addition to Dean Sinclair, there were several strong performances from the cast that is a credit to their musical and dramatic training. Anne-Louise Finlayson as Little Buttercup showed great spirit and presence on stage, whilst Michael Handy's tenor (Ralph Rackstraw) was a privilege to listen to.

Savoy Theatre, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera, Sydney, HMS Pinafore, SHORE
Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

The only area needing improvement is purely technical; some of the clarity and comprehension of lyrics were lost as not all performers, particularly the sopranos did project loud enough to fully reach the audience. However I am sure this is something that will be rectified by the time the 2015 production of The Gondoliers reaches the stage, and did not diminish the quality and strength of the performances onstage.

Image appears courtesy of Ray Wing-Lun

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney's "HMS Pinafore" is showing between 26 September and October 4th at the Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre: Shore School, William Street, North Sydney. Tickets are available through www.trybooking.com

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*Katherine Thomas was invited as a guest
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Why? A satirical look at the British class system
When: September 26th, 27th October 3rd & 4th: 8pm, September 28th, October 4th: 2pm
Where: Shore School, William Street North Sydney
Cost: Adult: $40, Student/Senior: $35, Children: $22, Family (x4): $95
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