Six of us did just that when we saw HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury performed by the Godalming Operatic Society on 1st March. Writing personally, I found the whole programme an evening of sheer delight.
Not having heard live music for some years the Overture to HMS Pinafore was a treat.
The orchestra played with feeling and a verve that boded well for the rest of the performance. It was a pleasure to hear the words of the songs, a rare art among modern day vocalists.
One thing I often miss in amateur Gilbert and Sullivan is the dancing of Doyly Carte productions, but how the 30 or so members of the chorus managed their musical manoeuvres on such a small stage at Leatherhead without bumping into each other was quite amazing!
Colourful costumes made the ensembles quite spectacular. The men were as smart as the Navy should be and the ladies’ costumes were breath takingly beautiful, especially the one worn by the Captain’s daughter. The principles were well suited to their roles and the acting superb. Sullivan’s music is not always easy to sing but the solos came over smoothly and with clarity.
Gilbert poked fun at the social prejudices of the day throughout HMS Pinafore, however in this production the humour was not overplayed but came quite naturally and we chuckled and had some good laughs.
When we opened the Programme at the beginning of the evening we were surprised to see that Trial By Jury was placed between the two acts of HMS Pinafore instead of before or afterwards as was usual.
However, it was presented as the Captain’s nightmare and as such this novel arrangement fitted in perfectly. Throughout the whole trial the Captain slept centre front of the stage dressed in his nightshirt and cap.
The ship’s company, dressed appropriately, became the jury and court room officials while Sir Joseph’s sisters and cousins and aunts were the plaintiff’s bridesmaids.
What followed was quite the best performance of Trial by Jury that I have ever seen.
It was played with gusto and viewed by the audience with obvious enjoyment.
The Trial ended satisfactorily all round, the court room emptied (and presumably the cast had a quick change of costume off stage) and we were seamlessly returned to HMS Pinafore for the second act which was presented as delightfully as the first.
In true Gilbertian absurdity the First Lord of the Admiralty appeared quite unabashed at seeing a naval Captain on the quarter deck in his nightwear!
Congratulations to the Godalming Operatic and Dramatic Society for a very enjoyable evening.