24th November 2018
Gosforth Musical Society
Gosforth Civic Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Michael L Avery
A new Gilbert and Sullivan for me. Obviously, I knew a little of the music and I was previously aware of the existence of H.M.S. Pinafore but I try to be honest about my lack of familiarity with the genre. I am improving. Steven Aitchison, as able seaman Ralph (or, his preference, Rafe) Rackshaw and Grace Ridley as the Captain's daughter, Josephine, were well matched and clearly comfortable in their roles. Grace has an impressive voice and sang her role impressively, as well as, unexpectedly "bustin' a few unexpected moves" in the course of proceedings.
Gareth Jones and Jenny Parkin were amusing as Captain Corcoran and Little Buttercup. Jenny had the audience smiling from the opening. Thereafter, she developed her character as the person whose mistake in earlier life provides the basis for an ultimately happy ending. It was, however, a slight stretch for the audience to ultimately accept that the Captain and the seaman had been switched at birth.Paul Leach, as Dick Deadeye, was a hoot throughout the proceedings. As we have come to expect, Laurence Scott was excellent as the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Parker KCB, the older personage, pompous and narcissistic, who has designs on Josephine who, in turn, only has eyes for young Rafe. Laurence's dry, almost straight delivery of the lines was very funny.The presentation was very plain. No sets, no costumes. But director Mark Buckley filled the smallish stage at the Civic Theatre with his 21 (according to the programme) players, even when there may only have been two or three of them on at any particular time. Musical director, Philip Hall, and his small ensemble sounded good, managing to fill the hall from opening note to final bar. There were some interesting and amusing tweaks to some lyrics which, together with Grace's bustin' moves, gave the show an occasional modern touch. The contrast between the basic lyrics and lib and those modern tweaks evoked spontaneous laughter and a good burst of applause, as appropriate.
The Chorus, as always at Gosforth, sounded so good when they performed their four part harmony together. The music and dialogue flowed smoothly and the lyrics and lib was performed very clearly, so the audience picked up on all the humour - although I suspect many in the audience knew what was coming in advance. As I said in opening, it was new to me and all the more enjoyable for that.