Monday, 12 August 2013

Lyric Opera Productions Ireland: HMS Pinafore

For one of the more popular of the G&Ses, Pinafore actually doesn't come up all that often at the Festival. This is the first one I've seen, pot-lucks aside; and my brain wants me to put in the chorus responses in "When I was a lad", because I more often hear it in the Festival Club than from the stage! Like Pirates (and to a lesser extent Mikado), Pinafore will seldom be done really badly - the greater risk is mediocrity. So do you aim to please the pundits or distinguish your Pinafore from others? Maybe you try for both.

I said this yesterday about their Mikado and I'll say it again about Pinafore: chorus precision is excellent. The men, especially, have numerous opportunities to show off their drilling. As we've just been reminded (in the cabaret), the same chorus played in both shows, which is a HUGE job; drilling until those foot or hand movements are perfectly together takes time, and that time clearly was spent.

And it's not just the chorus who excel, of course. The leads lead the way - the lovely voice of Josephine (Marie McGrann) in her solos, the low but audible snarking of Dick Deadeye (Philip Cox) - the boat cloak "suits you", he says; Sir Joseph (Eugene O'Hagan) is, as the part demands, a character. He's young and attractive, and it seems that Hebe (Annaliesa Evans) may have pinched the cameo of him that Josephine was given, though I'm not entirely sure of that. She seemed to have something, at least. Made it feel a little less sudden and contrived when the three living pairs, err I mean three loving pairs, were united. At least for the moment - Capt Corcoran (James Cleverton) and Buttercup (Raphaela Mangan) might have a bit of rockiness ahead of them, given their antics back-and-forth when Former Captain Corcoran admitted that he would "hardly ever" but perhaps occasionally be untrue to her! (Gilbert's sailors are actually pretty much always true to those whom they profess to love. Family-friendly entertainment, after all.) Ralph Rackstraw (Lawrence Thackeray), as the new captain, should be reasonable toward his opposite number; the former captain was fairly polite, but I could imagine some scenes of justifiable jealousy and the elevation of the expression "If you please" to profanity!

Another technically brilliant show (the off-stage chorus and the orchestra in perfect sync, numerous oddments flown in and out through the show, and all sorts of little things happening in the background); if you want to know what David Russell Hulme's reconstruction of "Reflect, My Child" sounds like, you could do far worse than pick up a DVD of Lyric's rendition.

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