Society’s able-bodied performance
A GOOD measure of the health of an operatic society is the strength of its male chorus – which puts Salisbury Operatic Society in good shape, judging by its able-bodied performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore at the City Hall last week.
Unlikely cargo, fetched aboard as we re-entered port, threatened the grand finale with a sinking feeling. Not the additional Savoy choruses in which we all joined enthusiastically. Rather, the surprise appearance of Britannia. Dear me – one, (three if we include the composers) Englishman on board Pinafore, is quite enough without Thomas Arne promenading around.
Happily, order was restored and we were soon back on course for a triumphal finale to the main event: a ship-shape production of one of the most successful of all the Gilbert & Sullivan collaborations. It certainly put the English on the map of comic opera. And if the chorus of sailors was up to strength, sisters, cousins and aunts were legion. This society certainly knows how to make the City Hall stage look tiny, commitment was everywhere.
A fine turnout of principals, too. David Coxon looked more at home in his bell bottoms than in the captain’s uniform but sang everything with gusto. Kevin Murdoch, once he found confidence in his upper register, was an able Rackstraw for the lovely, soaring soprano of Nicky Burgess’s charming Josephine. Michael Bowyer paraded a booming peacock of a Joseph Porter, reminding us all how words can be heard when we put our mind to it. I suspect he could have managed without those mikes which, however necessary in the large arena, so tend to distort otherwise pleasant voices.
Remembering Sullivan’s scores are quite as demanding as anything Gilbert wrote, John Dempster and his orchestra are once again to be congratulated for their excellent support in the pit, as are Kim Yew Wong’s dancers who livened up the overture a treat.
What a wonderful and colourful afternoon’s performance your society gave to the public on Saturday afternoon. It is some time since I have seen a performance of this classic Gilbert and Sullivan and I found this one to be refreshing and innovative. I particularly enjoyed the Gilbert and Sullivan Medley which gave members of the chorus a chance to shine – great idea!
The principals had been well chosen, in particular – Mike as Sir Joseph was delightfully pompous and struttingly arrogant, David as Captain Corcoran gave an excellent performance, Nicky portrayed Josephine well and her voice was pure and very pleasant on the ear. The singing trios and quartets sounded well balanced and were well sung – I really liked “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore”, “A British Tar” and “Oh Joy! Oh Rapture Unforeseen”.
The choreography in many of the choral numbers enhanced the overall performance. The opening ballet with the overture was beautifully executed. The colour coordinated costume and the overall effect of red, white and blue gave a patriotic feel to this show. Lighting was well executed and liked the wave effect gobo on the set.
Overall a great production and I was very impressed once again with the commitment of the group as a whole. I look forward to being invited to your next production.
Southern Daily Echo
GILBERT and Sullivan’s operetta about class distinction in the British Navy proves a good vessel to convey the talents of the cast.
Director Paul Chandler has kept to the spirit of the original while introducing several innovative elements, some more successful than others. The opening number, for instance, perhaps contained too much movement.
A medley of G& S favourites at the end of Act Two gives an opportunity for several chorus members to demonstrate the strength of depth in the company.
All the leads gave creditable performances. In particular, Nicky Burgess was a delightful Josephine with a strong melodious voice. David Coxon (Captain Corcoran) and Mike Bowyer (Sir Joseph Porter KCB) were very convincing in their roles, as was Kevin Murdoch (Ralph Rackstraw) and Christian Jull (Dick Deadeye). Susi Tenti (Buttercup), Fred Rees (Bob Beckett), Michael Bolton (Boatswain), and Kate Sheppard (Hebe) all added to the success of the production. The show contained colourful costumes and set.