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PBGS really does G&S well – we had a super set and great costumes, with some interesting direction from new Director Amanda Sayers.

There was a little more actual dancing than is usually the case in G&S, and it worked well – I was very taken with the overture number from Katherine Crew, Alison Gibbs, Ketina Orriss and Vikki Rehm, and also their reactions to Ralph.

The set was well-conceived and allowed the cast to move around it well, with the upper deck being just large enough to cope with the trio and a little movement.  It was simple but colourful, and the moon projected onto the backdrop for Act 2 was very soulful.

I felt the lighting was a little indistinct at times – there were a couple of instances where the singer was down stage left particularly and not lit at all.

The costumes were colourful, I loved the ladies red and blue dresses – very fetching, and also the turquoise that Hebe and Jebe wore.  As always with PBGS they looked fresh and managed to suit everyone.  Josephine’s lilac dress was particularly fetching.  The men all looked very spruced up in their sailor costumes.  

I thought Captain Corcoran looked spot on – so smart, not even a wrinkle in those trousers and the jacket fitted perfectly.  Sir Joseph also looked the part.

Ladies hair was very in keeping with the costumes and the era.

I liked the configuration of the band, under the direction of Graham Thomson, and there was a lovely flute accompaniment (played on the keyboard) in a couple of numbers. I felt that some of the numbers were a little too fast, as the ensemble were having problems getting all their sisters, cousins and aunts in – and it detracted from the sound they made.  

Sound balance was OK in most places, but I felt that the ensemble as a whole lacked projection, which is very unusual for PBGS.

The two stand out characters for me were Graham Breeze as Captain Corcoran and Paula Fraser as Josephine – they both gave their parts energy and expression along with a real understanding of the meaning of the words, both sung and spoken, combined with humour and angst where relevant.  Well done to you both.  Graham has a beautifully mellifluous voice that suited the part well, whilst Paula created a lovely feeling to ‘Sorry Her Lot’ – a very wistful mood which I enjoyed.

Close on their heels was Brian Miles as the lovelorn Ralph – always a good portrayal, and a fine voice, although there were instances where he and Paula were facing each other directly and singing – so the noise was going between them, but because they weren’t mic’d it wasn’t going out to the audience as well as it could have been.  That said I liked the relationship they achieved.

Catherine Harvey gave us a nice interpretation of Buttercup, I liked her costume it was very becoming.

Paul Blunt played Dick Deadeye, and certainly looked the part, but wasn’t as evil as he could have been, I missed the added dimension this character usually gives to the piece.  

Nicole Santelmann and Louise Thonger as Hebe and Jebe both created lively characters, with Louise giving it that little bit extra facially that made her stand out.

The ladies of the chorus did well, but I think they suffered a little from lack of space on the right hand side of the stage, which could have been alleviated by just moving everything left slightly!!  I felt that the men’s chorus needed a little more energy, to match the ladies.

Overall an enjoyable production with some good performances.

Putteridge Bury Gilbert & Sullivan Society

“HMS PINAFORE” review date: 4th June 2015

Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin

Director:  Amanda Sayers MD: Graham Thomson


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