Comic Operetta "H.M.S. Pinafore" Sails into Salem

H.M.S. Pinafore [photo of actors]The Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta "H.M.S. Pinafore" will be performed Saturday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. in the Smith Auditorium at Willamette University.

The Victorian story of class distinction and denied passion will be performed by Mock's Crest Productions, a professional summer theater company supported by the University of Portland. Now in its 17th season, the company produces high-quality comic opera, employing some of the Pacific Northwest's finest actors, singers, directors and designers.

When "H.M.S. Pinafore" opened in London in 1878, it was an instant success and ran for 571 performances. It became Gilbert and Sullivan's first international success -- arriving in New York in 1879. Today, it remains one of their most popular operettas with its lyrical melodies and witty libretto.

The operetta's story takes place aboard the H.M.S. Pinafore, where Little Buttercup sells wares to the crew. Seaman Ralph Rackstraw's mind, however, is focused on the captain's daughter, Josephine, whom he loves despite her lofty social status. Josephine is in love with Ralph as well, but cannot admit her attraction to a man of such low rank.

The Captain hopes his daughter will wed Sir Joseph Porter, but Josephine refuses to acknowledge him. Sir Joseph believes a British sailor is any man's equal. Taking Sir Joseph's cue, Ralph declares his love to Josephine, who confesses her feelings for him. Plans are made to smuggle the couple ashore to be married, but the lovers' intentions are betrayed. The play takes a surprising twist as Little Buttercup saves the day.

The operetta is directed by Thomas Graff, with music conducted by Roger Doyle. Ernie Casciato plays Sir Joseph Porter, Thomas Prislac Jr. plays Captain Corcoran, James Langston Drake plays Ralph Rackstraw, Anne McKee Reed plays Josephine, Alexis Crump Hamilton plays Little Buttercup and John Vergin plays Dick Deadeye.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, and are available at the door or at the Pentacle Theatre Ticket Office, 145 Liberty St. NE, 503-485-4300. There is a service charge added. Discounted prices are available for the Willamette community. For more information contact the Department of Music at 503-370-6255.