Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore was probably one of the first musical plays I saw so I have an affection for it, even though I do not like all the music which I find fussy and frilly. Though fun, this fussiness can make it hard to sing well, particularly for amateur groups. One local amateur group had no such problems – the Haslemere Players. What a great Pinafore director Stephanie Goodfellow produced! In fact, it was hard to tell that it was an amateur one given the professionalism the company displayed at the Haslemere Hall last week. From the moment Vicki Gavin, chair of the company and veteran of many a performance, appeared on stage as Little Buttercup we could tell that it was going to be an excellent evening. Vicki has a strong voice and an equally strong stage presence and throughout the show her flirtations with Captain Corcoran (Alan Thornhill) were a treat. Alan, too, has a strong voice, as does almost everyone who starred in the show and his rendition of I am the Captain of the Pinafore was great fun. Sir Joseph has to be played with great pomposity and Adrian Stent rose to the challenge admirably, causing roars of laughter with his facial expressions. Another character who must be exaggerated is Dick Deadeye and Richard Arthur, making an impressive debut with the Haslemere Players, gave it everything, the result being a hideous and highly entertaining monster with rather a good voice. I am quite sure that the phrase “return of the Deadeye” did not appear in the original. As the romantic lead, Ralph Rackstraw and Josephine have a challenge of not being too wet, as many romantic leads are (Marius and Cosette from Les Miserables, you know you are guilty). Nathaniel Hook and Rebecca Lucas succeeded here by bringing humour to their performances; in fact, some of Nathaniel’s more dramatic moments were saved from melodrama by his – possibly unconscious but very funny – echoes of Graham Norton. Nathaniel also has a tremendous voice. The choruses (Sailors, Sisters, Cousins and Aunts) the music, the scenery, the band (under the direction of William Godfree), the costumes – all were excellent. The performance of ‘He is an Englishman’ – or in this case, ‘He is an Henglishman’ – was particularly good, both for its singing and its choreography. In fact, the choreography was especially impressive, given how many people were on stage. When I saw the Players version of Calamity Jane earlier in the year I felt that the choreography had let them down a little, but in this production Jessica-Alice McCluskey overcame the issues of small stage and a large cast to create some slick moves. Many congratulations on a production that exceeded all expectations and we look forward to South Pacific next year.
Stella Wiseman, Haslemere Herald, 1 November 2013.
DIRECTOR, Stephanie Goodfellow
MUSICAL DIRECTOR, William Godfree
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, Jocelyn Brown
ASSOCIATE MUSICAL DIRECTOR, Angela Jones
CHOREOGRAPHER, Jessica-Alice McCluskey
LITTLE BUTTERCUP, Vicki Gavin
BOATSWAIN BILL BOBSTAY, Chris Bridge
DICK DEADEYE, Richard Arthur
RALPH RACKTRAW, Nathaniel Hook
CAPTAIN CORCORAN, Alan Thornhill
JOSEPHINE, Rebecca Lucas
HEBE, Carolyn Beaumont
THE RT, HON SIR JOSEPH PORTER, K.C.B., Adrian Stent
BOB BECKET, Edward Tobin
Chorus of Sisters, Cousins and Aunts
Valerie Bishop, Debbie Bowyer, Charlotte Fentem, Ellen Gowers, Jane Laver, Elizabeth Lelew, Jenny Manville, Marian Muskett, Rachel perkins, Judith Reading, Jean Treacher-Evans and Alison Wallis.
Chorus of Sailors
Andy Armitage, Howard Bicknell, Mike Byrne, Bob Fells, Michael Laver, Graeme Somerville, Brian Upstell and Jack Wood.