HMS Pinafore in traditional style

Actors flexing vocal muscles in Sidney, Victoria shows

Rudy Ewart (Sir Joseph Porter)

Actors in the Victoria Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s presentation of H.M.S. Pinafore will have to throw their voices.

To be more precise, they will be projecting their voices and their stage performances to audiences at the Mary Winspear Theatre in Sidney and Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse. This is, says choreographer Heather-Elayne Day, the traditional style of Gilbert and Sullivan operas — no microphones to enhance the sound.

“We present Gilbert and Sullivan (operas) as traditional as possible,” she explained. “So, there are no body mics.”

The only exception, she continued, is at the top of a 10-foot poop deck where the distance between the actors and the audience requires a little sound enhancement.

“The focus, then, is on the actors projecting their voices and delivering clear diction. I have been impressed with our younger performers who normally work with microphones.

“They have risen to the task, but it’s a skill that’s being lost.”

H.M.S. Pinafore is a comic opera aboard the British ship of the same name.

Captain Corcoran (played by Victoria’s Colin Grewar) intends his daughter Josephine (Victoria’s Inge Illman) to marry Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty (Saanich’s Rudy Ewart).

Little does he know that Josephine is in love with a lower class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw (Victoria’s Kaden Forsberg).

“It’s one of the most popular Gilbert and Sullivan comic operettas,” Day said, noting that they draw strong audiences for all of the top operas by the famous composer and musician duo who had a big influence on modern musical theatre.

Day said the cast is powerful and enthusiastic about learning the complex music and lyrics.

She said the score is difficult to sing but has given the theatre world some of its most popular songs, such as My Gallant Crew, Good Morning and We Sail The Ocean Blue.

Day added there will be challenges with performing on two different stages.

The Charlie White Theatre at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney and the McPherson Playhouse stages are different sizes and shapes. Day said they have made the set to be able to fit on both, while using the space as effectively as possible. Lighting and sound, too, are different but Day said both facilities have good technicians.

Music for the performances will be provided by a full orchestra. In Sidney, they will play in front of the stage and at McPherson, there is an orchestra pit.

Dedicated to the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, the Society draws people from the Saanich Peninsula to throughout Greater Victoria who share the camaraderie of the organization.

“There are so many theatrical opportunities (in Greater Victoria) that we do see some people hopping from show to show,” Day said, “but this group generally does stick around and are dedicated to Gilbert and Sullivan plays.”

To find out more about the Victoria Gilbert and Sullivan Society and their upcoming shows, visit www.gilbertandsullivanvictoria.ca.