Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera HMS Pinafore is perfectly suited to the backdrop of Edinburgh’s eccentricity. Most importantly, the spirited vibrancy of HMS Pinafore is no better performed than by the bright, talented members of the Edinburgh Savoy Opera Group at the Assembly Roxy.
HMS Pinafore takes place aboard the ship of the same name. It tells the story of how the captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, despite her father’s intentions for her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Director Holly Marsden takes careful consideration to illustrate how HMS Pinafore is not only a satirical tale of forbidden love but is also a criticism of the British class system. Her emphasis on revelations of identity give the production an appealing political and human edge that highlights exactly what musicals are about – showing an exaggeration of humanity.
Musical director, Sam Coade, holds firm command over a tight-knit orchestra which opens the production by coaxing us through the familiar overture as the ship’s company slowly settles on the stage. Neon lights, beach balls and rainbow umbrellas are scattered throughout the stage as crew members dressed in bright yellow blazers and summer dresses strike up chords of musical merriment which are sustained throughout the production.
As the opening night unfolds, it becomes clear that the chorus is perhaps a little unfamiliar with the stage. Yet, what they lacked in finesse, they made up for in heart. It was difficult not to suppress a smile as they bopped to the catchy tunes, holding red paper hearts to their chest. Talya Steinberg steals the beginning of the production with her powerful performance of the classic ‘Little Buttercup’, paving the way for a night of true joy and rapture.
An honourable mention goes to Angus Bhattacharya’s fantastically arrogant Sir Joseph Porter.
But the star of the show is, without a doubt, Livi Wollaston who plays the young Josephine. Her chemistry with Brett McCarthy Harrop, who plays Ralph, is endearingly tender. Her voice is, without a doubt, the most musical on stage and her operatic soprano lingered with the audience long after the production ended.
Overall, HMS Pinafore proved an engaging, committed and colourful performance that made for a star-studded evening.
Photo courtesy of Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group