Sing-along HMS Pinafore at the New Vic Theatre - Newcastle Staffs.
We attended a "scratch" performance of HMS Pinafore at the New Vic Theatre - Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. This was a most enjoyable evening which started even before we went into the auditorium - in the entrance we were presented with our programme and also an individual Union Jack.
The program contained the score which was similar to "chorus" scores which I have mentioned in other areas of this site. It was modified in order to leave out some of the "trickier" choral parts. For example the finale of act one was cut short.
The audience was a mixture of people - some who knew the scores off by heart and were members of a G&S society or choir, to those who just about knew the story of Pinafore and could not sing a note! Into the former category fell that well known SavoyNetter Chris Wain.
The professional cast were:-
Carte Opera Company, Scottish Opera. Glyndebourne Opera
Patrick - Josephine
Carl Rosa Opera Company, The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company,
Glyndebourne Opera Company
Donohue - The Rt. Hon.
Sir Joseph Porter, K.G.B.
Rosa Opera, The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company
Crane - Little Buttercup
Carte Opera Company, Opera Della Luna, Mid Wales Opera, Glyndebourne Opera
Belsey - Captain Corcoran
- Captain of The Pinafore
D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, Opera Della Luna, WNO and English Festival Opera
Currently Giving International Performances of his many Gilbert and Sullivan Roles
Music Director Ian McMillan
The performance started with the entrance of the MD Ian McMillan walking onto the "stage" (remember the New Vic is "in the Round"), which consisted of some rigging, a bit of decking and a grand piano. He was dressed casually and in a very short time had us all moving about to get into groups according to voice. The theatre was about 2/3 full and this meant that nobody was sitting behind the action. Ian had a delightful manner and made everyone totally relaxed. We started off our practice, gradually working our way through the operetta. There was an "opening" for a Hebe and a Boatswain and Ian quickly obtained two "volunteers" After a great deal of fun, including action rehearsal as well as voice rehearsal, it was time to go to the bar to lubricate the tonsils ready for the production which would take place in the second half of the performance.
The performance opened with Ian coming onto the stage dressed as a sailor - he started to play and before we knew it we were into the actions as we cleaned the deck and sang the opening chorus - John Ayldon was a super Dick Deadeye - a part for which he is famous with the D'Oyly Carte, Ralph was much weaker - I don't know if he was not feeling too well but he struggled with some of his singing. Buttercup entered and sang her song - as she did so she wandered amongst the audience (although by this time we thought of ourselves as the chorus!!), giving out goodies - bags of mints, flowers - I received an apple! She was an excellent actress with a very clear, strong voice. . The captain came on board and we greeted him with a cheer - what a magnificent voice he had and what stage presence - a superb bit of casting. Buttercup did some good flirting with the captain.
Josephine had a very good voice with each note clear and crisp - her diction was very clear, the only problem was that she had a few more years that Gilbert has planned for? The duet was quite good but again Ralph struggled with some of the notes.
Sir Joseph did the usual business of coming on from an entrance away from where everyone was looking - what a magnificent costume he had and how well he carried it off - again a good voice with clear diction. He had good fun with the volunteer Hebe in the audience. We all joined in the actions of the "when I was a lad"
Dick Deadeye was great as he tried to discourage the elopement. We all joined in with a jubilant British Tar with much flag waving to bring Act one to a close.
Straight into Act Two - We all helped them sneak away until we were caught by the captain. The volunteer boatswain sang a "gravelly" version of "An English Man" and we all joined in - again with much flag waving. The Captain appeared and said the big bad "D" and Sir Joseph bundled him off to his cabin, shortly to be followed by Ralph when Sir Joseph realised that Ralph was in love with Josephine. Buttercup cleared it all up and the two came back in each others roles.
The operetta concluded with a rousing chorus of "An English Man" which ended with even more violent flag waving from the standing audience/chorus. An encore followed as the cast took their curtain calls which included the Boatswain and Hebe being presented with a box of chocolates for their efforts.
In all an excellent evening's entertainment in which, instead of constantly digging my father-in-law in the ribs to prevent him from singing along, he was able to burst forth with full volume along with the rest of the audience - an excellent performance from the professionals and might I say an equally good one from the audience - well done to all!
9/10 "Gilberts" for entertainment value
If it comes to your area - give it a try! (The next performance is at King's Lynn on Sunday4th August.)