The U-M Gilbert and Sullivan Society stunned audiences once again this weekend with their lively performance of “H.M.S. Pinafore.” With the wooden frame setting of a ship and sailor”s costumes that would give Gilligan a run for his money, the atmosphere of a real sea voyage took over the theater from the start. The red, white and blue sailor”s costumes as well as the patriotic music additionally gave a real sense of camaraderie.
Yet, this initial feeling soon became a bit distorted due to class pride with a lowly sailor, Ralph, falling in love with his Captain”s daughter, Josephine. Due to class issues, Josephine has to hide her natural inclinations to return Ralph”s love. Furthermore, the Captain himself has a bit of a romance, as Buttercup, a peddler women has fallen in love with him.
But, like most fathers, the Captain puts his daughter in front of himself and tries to play matchmaker between his daughter and Sir Joseph Porter, Lord of the Admiralty. In revolt against this set-up, Josephine and Ralph attempt to elope, but the Captain steps in their way. However, there is more to the story, as throughout several scenes Buttercup hints that she is hiding a secret. In revealing this secret, she solves all difficulties, permitting Josephine and Ralph to marry and live happily ever after.
The show”s love songs and sailing songs reminded me of “Gilligan”s Island” and “The Love Boat.” However, the musical numbers also had a respectful, patriotic flavor, beginning with the first song, in which the audience rose and joined in the singing of “God Save the Queen.” Throughout both acts, the characters expressed their emotions mainly in the form of songs, which were cheery, lively and even had several dance moves. Using many catchy expressions such as “Worn out garments show new patches,” and “Catchy-Catchies,” along with British slang, the actors and actresses expressed humor in almost every scene.
Contrary to popular belief, this show was not only for adults, but for the young and old alike. The wide range of ages sitting in the audience from parents and University students to grandparents and their grandchildren goes to show that Gilbert and Sullivan”s “H.M.S. Pinafore” is a classic on class pride for all ages.