Reviewed by Richard Lane
The eccentric William S Gilbert could not bear to attend the opening nights of the Savoy operas he co-wrote with Arthur Sullivan. One wonders if he was able to attend the opening night of SALOS’s production of Mutiny on the Pinafore whether he would have approved of the mangling of his words by librettist Fraser Charlton, an English writer who wrote many stories which drew heavily on the Savoy operas. According to the program, Charlton used songs that “vary between being completely unaltered to completely rewritten.” This particular piece provides well known characters from HMS Pinafore and is based on the Bab Ballads, a collection of nonsense verses by Gilbert.
The plot follows up on the good ship Pinafore where sailor Edward Corcoran slugs the First Lord of the Admiralty for refusing to shake his hand at his wedding to Little Buttercup. Corcoran is condemned to hang, the jolly Jack Tars get together and drum up a mutiny, and the long-held secret of Sir Joseph is finally revealed.
Under the sure hand of experienced director Pam Tucker, and Musical Director Peter Potts, with a cast of some forty odd, this production is great fun.
The setting on board HMS Pinafore is simple, open plan and the costumes are picture book. But the best part of this show is of course, the music which draws from many G&S operas including HMS Pinafore, The Gondoliers, Ruddigore, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance to name just a few.
Whilst the opening number We Sail the Ocean Blue looked a little under rehearsed, the chorus singing was generally very strong throughout with the ladies of the chorus out-singing the men for the most part.
Clearly, the wonderful, powerful soprano voice of Danielle Ruggiero (Josephine) was a feature of this show, soaring above the others at every opportunity with clarity and purity. Ruggiero’s singing of Oh happy young heart! (Act1) was a delight.
In the sad duet There grew a little Flower (Act2) we heard the pleasant baritone of Greg Paterson (Edward Corcoran) and the charming soprano of Christine Southby (Little Buttercup). Roslyn Fleming as Lady Hebe has a fine stage presence, while Dione Palmer made a perky Beth Beckett., Fifteen year old Jacob Whitelock in his second appearance with SALOS, made a fine impression as the tentative lover of Beth, and their duet I know a youth was sensitively and charmingly sung., Beau-Daniel Loumeau lacked a little power in his singing but was nevertheless suitable as Captain Ralph Rackstraw.
The best two acting roles were divided between Robert Kimber (Sir Joseph Porter) and Les Nutter. As Dick Deadeye, Les Nutter was a hit from the opening sequence. Nutter was horrible, coarse, unwholesome, acerbic and very funny. And the audience loved it!
As the arrogant and snobbish Sir Joseph Porter, Robert Kimber overacted his extremely experienced socks off, his big number I am the very model of a modern Cabinet Minister being a show stopper.
Some tightening up of spoken dialogue, and a little more energy in one or two of the chorus numbers will enhance the overall standard of this production.