Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 2001
Cast List
Sir Joseph Porter KCB
Captain Kirkoran
Ralph Rackstraw
Klingon Deadeye
Mr Spock
Little Buttercup
Cabaret MC
Cabaret Singer
Cabaret Singer

Notes on this performance

95. Pinafore

To boldly split infinitives…

The curtain came down on Oliver! on May 5th and in the following month the Society performed Pinafore at the Nuffield Theatre – quite an achievement but it was all planned. The season started with Pinafore rehearsals, the principals were selected and the music learnt before full focus was given to the Mayflower production.

Director David Rayner and MD Martin Paterson were pleasantly surprised that the company had not forgotten everything, especially as this was not a traditional version of HMS Pinafore but one based on Star Trek. It was an idea that David had wanted to explore for a long time, so characters like Captain Kirkoran, Mr Spock (Colin Sly) and Klingon Deadeye (David Tatnall) were beamed down to the world of G&S. David Rayner had hoped to play a principal part and also direct in this show but, as it was possible to cast all the roles from those auditioning, he ended up in the chorus.

The set (constructed by David Jupp and Phil Dennis and painted by Nicky McKinley and helpers) was brilliant - a replica of the Bridge on the Enterprise, complete with automatic doors and accompanying sound effects. Even though technology on the ship did not seem to have advanced any further than ratings using mops to clean the deck, the Echo reporter was highly impressed, ‘There are few better loved G&S operas than HMS Pinafore. As well as cracking individual numbers there are terrific opportunities for entertaining ensemble pieces. Now there is also the possibility of flinging USS Pinafore forward in time several millennia and staging it in an inter-galactic starship. What an Enterprise – and what a success!

David Rayner has shown light years of invention in adapting the libretto, retaining the lyricism of the original whilst adding terrific touches of sci-fi humour. Even the overture had a couple of bars of the Star Trek theme. From the moment Barbara Rayner entered as a raunchy Buttercup – with the emphasis firmly on the first syllable! I knew this was a production with verve and imagination. What a treat not to hear singers reliant on microphones too. As Head of Starfleet Academy, David Jupp was a comic tour de force and the two lovers, played by Simon Pontin (Ralph) and Janet Green (Josephine), sang and acted with convincing passion. Mike Pavitt’s Captain Kirkoran was also a fine all-round performance, complete with the James T. Kirk stare. Wonderful comic choreography, splendid and fabulously futuristic costumes all added to this innovative adaptation. This Captain’s log recommends a star date at the Nuffield Theatre!’

The need to lengthen HMS Pinafore was solved by adding a crew’s cabaret to start Act 2 and, although there was some fine singing, it did tend to change the mood and detract from the story. It was wisely decided to leave this section out when the show was reprised at the International G&S Festival in Buxton.

There was no great expectation that Pinafore would do any better than break even at the box office so the eventual £2152 profit came as a pleasant surprise. 

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Buttercup

Barbara Rayner (Little Buttercup) entertains Ensign Adam Case

Photo of Crew

Mike Pavitt (Captain Kirkoran) with his crew on the deck of Starship Pinafore

Photo of Sir Joseph

 David Jupp (Sir Joseph Porter) with Simon Pontin (Ralph Jackstraw) and Mike Pavitt (Captain Kirkoran)

Photo of Ring the Bells

David Jupp (Sir Joseph Porter), Janet Green (Josephine) and Mike Pavitt (Captain Kirkoran)

Photo of Klingon Deadeye

Mike Pavitt (Captain Kirkoran) with David Tatnall (Klingon Deadeye)

Photo of Spock

Barbara Rayner (Little Buttercup), Colin Sly (Mr Spock), Simon Pontin (Ralph Rackstraw), Janet Green (Josephine)