Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Mayflower Theatre,
March 1991
Director: Fran Morley
Cast List
Rt Hon Sir Joseph Porter KCB
Captain Corcoran
Ralph Rackstraw
Dick Deadeye
Bill Bobstay
Bob Becket
Tom Tucker
Cousin Hebe
Little Buttercup

Notes on this performance

74. H.M.S. Pinafore 

Enter Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle…

The Society had no worries about Holy Week for HMS Pinafore as it was given a date at the beginning of March. Fran Morley was keen to add to her reputation as an imaginative producer by bringing her directing skills to a large theatre and Peter Robson needed no encouragement to come back as MD. The Stage Manager was Colin Strange and he was also responsible for the building of a highly impressive set based on HMS Victory itself. It was erected at Southern Water’s headquarters in Otterbourne and used for the final rehearsals before going into the Mayflower.

The casting for the show was simplified by the introduction to the Society of two G&S fanatics - David Rayner (Sir Joseph) and David Tizzard (Bill Bobstay). David Lewis was persuaded to return to SOS as Ralph and Lucy Braga, one of the Junior Section’s promising sopranos, was awarded the role of Josephine. Unfortunately, things did not work out for Lucy; she had difficulties with the part and Chairman Brian Howard had to suggest to her that she should stand down – apparently, Lucy was quite relieved and, to her great credit, then joined the chorus and performed admirably. Rae Baker, who had been playing the Strawberry Seller in Oliver! with Sadlers Wells learnt the part and deputised with a few weeks to spare.

Fran’s vision of Pinafore involved creating picturesque friezes and having a Victorian-style photographer on hand to capture the scenes. Pete Robson solved the problem of the shortness of the show by adding to it – the character of Hebe, played by Hazel Killham, was developed and included a rousing rendition of Rule Britannia, Eagle High was borrowed from Utopia Ltd., John Miller led the men’s chorus in performing a hornpipe and singing a sea-shanty and the ladies sang The Bosun’s Alphabet complete with semaphore signals. Junior members also featured with Sarah Miller dancing to Nimrod and the Sailors’ Hymn sung by Dominic O’Farrell.

Sue Wilkinson, in her Echo review, had great fun with her sea-faring references: ‘It was a smooth crossing as the company integrated nautical songs from other G&S works and pieces by Elgar to fill out the usually short show. Rule Britannia and the Hornpipe helped make it stirring stuff and the only thing that was missing was Rod Stewart’s "I Am Sailing". The idea found few critics and the appearance of a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle in the comic song “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore” brought the house down. Its success was due to the fine performances of newcomer David Rayner as Sir Joseph and Colin Sly as Corcoran while Rae Baker was in commanding form as the object of desire, Josephine. She has made the transition from the younger ranks to hold her own with the more senior members of the company, evident in the roles of Dick Deadeye, played with relish by David Jupp, David Lewis as the love-sick Ralph and Pam de Grouchy as a melodious Little Buttercup. An all-guns blazing set of a ship’s deck bathed in light made the perfect backdrop for a show which left audiences on a crest of a wave.’

Although HMS Pinafore was an excellent production, it still made a loss of £3908. 

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Josephine

Rae Baker (Josephine)

Photo of Josephine and Ralph

David Lewis (Ralph Rackstraw) and Rae Baker (Josephine)

 Photo of Sir Joseph

David Rayner (Sir Joseph Porter), Dominic O'Farrell (Tom Tucker), Hazel Killham (Cousin Hebe)

Photo of Buttercup

Pam de Grouchy (Little Buttercup) and Colin Sly (Captain Corcoran)

Photo of Dick Deadeye

David Jupp (Dick Deadeye) and Colin Sly (Captain Corcoran)