The Guthrie Theater's splash-hit production of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore boasts critically acclaimed choreography and musical staging by David Bolger, whose fancy footwork has been heralded by critics as "arresting," "breathtaking," and "awesome." The Irish choreographer's work has been seen on the Guthrie stage in the Theater's memorable 2004 production of The Pirates of Penzance and the 1999 Cameron Mackintosh musicAl Martin Guerre. Bolger's other credits include work with the U.K.'s National Theatre, Druid Theatre Company, Dublin's Abbey Theatre, Opera Ireland and English National Opera. He also served as choreographer for the 1998 film Dancing at Lughnasa starring Meryl Streep.
PBS recently announced that the Guthrie production of H.M.S. Pinafore will open the nine-part PBS Arts Fall Festival of performing arts programming on Friday, October 14, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS. H.M.S. Pinafore will kick off an exciting lineup on Friday nights through mid-December, including the broadcast debut of Cameron Crowe's documentary music film "Pearl Jam Twenty," dance performance films from Bill T. Jones, Miami City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, rock and Americana music programs from Cleveland and North Carolina, and a major new opera from LA Opera.
The cast of this splash-hit musical is led by Twin Cities actor/singers Robert O. Berdahl and Christina Baldwin as Captain Corcoran and Little Buttercup, respectively. Joining the pair on the ship's deck are Aleks Knezevich (Ralph Rackstraw), Seri Johnson (Cousin Hebe), Heather Lindell (Josephine), Jason Simon (Dick Deadeye) and J. Tyler Whitmer (Bob Becket) - all five making their Guthrie debuts - in addition to Robb McKindles (Bill Bobstay) and Peter Thomson (Sir Joseph Porter). Guthrie favorite Barbara Bryne (Broadway: Sunday in the Park with George, Hay Fever, Into the Woods) hops aboard for a special appearance as Queen Victoria, courtesy of new material by Jeffrey Hatcher, as was also notably done during the Guthrie's 2004 staging of The Pirates of Penzance. The Guthrie cast also feature sailors Joseph Bigelow, Nathan Bird, Nathaniel Braga, Alfie Parker, Jr., Adrian Pena, Adam Sarette, Brian Skellenger and Brian Sostek, and sisters/cousins/aunts Lauren Asheim, Timotha Lanae, Molly Sue McDonald, Tinia Moulder, Simone Perrin and Kersten Rodau. Adam Lendermon, Nicholas McGough and Laura Rudolph round out the company as swings.
Director Joe Dowling helms a creative team that also includes Andrew Cooke (Music Direction and Arrangements), Frank Hallinan Flood (Set Designer), Malcolm Rippeth (Lighting Designer) and Scott W. Edwards (Sound Designer).
The story takes place aboard a British ship, where Captain Corcoran's (Berdahl) daughter, Josephine (Lindell), has fallen in love with an ordinary sailor, Ralph Rackstraw (Knezevich). As the crew works to get things shipshape for the arrival of Sir Joseph Porter (Thomson), Corcoran's choice for a more sophisticated suitor for his daughter, Josephine decides initially to abide by her father's wishes and marry him. Conventional social order is quickly overturned, however, when Sir Joseph arrives and advocates for the equality of humankind. With a change of heart, Josephine declares her love for the ordinary sailor and the two - through the help of the crew, sisters, cousins and aunts - make plans to elope that night. When the captain discovers the plot, a surprise disclosure, as is typical of many Gilbert and Sullivan's works, changes things dramatically.
With its infectious songs, witty libretto and lighthearted satire, this Gilbert and Sullivan blockbuster is among the most crowd-pleasing comic musicals in history, and is destined to make the Guthrie this summer's favorite port of call. Remembered for its dynamite songs, gleefully entertaining story and saucy satire, H.M.S. Pinafore is full of pure joy and sensational entertainment, perfect for everyone, young or old!
Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore continues through August 28, 2011, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie. Single tickets start at $34 and are now on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org.
Photo Credit: Michal Daniel, except where specified