H M S Pinafore

Light opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and lyrics by W S Gilbert. A nautical tale of the love of a common sailor for the Captain's daughter and babies mixed up in infancy, brings us face to face with some of Gilbert's wittiest characters. Sir Joseph Porter, the Ruler of the Queen's Navee with his ever-present bevy of sisters, cousins and aunts; Little Buttercup, the bumboat woman who hides a dark secret; and Dick Deadeye, the ugliest sailor in the Royal Navy.

H.M.S. Pinafore originally opened on Saturday 25 May 1878 at London's Opera Comique (now demolished, site of BBC Bush House at Aldwych).

1981 West End Revival at the Adephi Theatre

1981 London Revival at the Collegiate Theatre

1986 West End London Revival - adapted by Bill Whelan - at the Old Vic Theatre

2000 West End London Revival at the Savoy Theatre

2002 West End London Revival at the Savoy Theatre

2005 London Revival - adapted by Herbert Appleman - at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, founded in 1875, presented Gilbert and Sullivan operas in London virtually every year in repertory seasons that extended up to three months at a time. These seasons, often staged at the Savoy Theatre or, more laterly, at Sadler's Wells Theatre usually included H.M.S. Pinafore in the repertory run. The final London season, before the Company closed in 1982, was held at the West End's Adelphi Theatre from 18 November 1981 to 27 February 1982, and featured seven Gilbert and Sullivan operas, including HMS Pinafore, playing in repertory.

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was reformed between 1988 to 2004, during which time they presented H.M.S. Pinafore in London for a number of seasons.

During the 1980s and 1990s, fully staged productions of HMS Pinafore were presented in London by various theatre companies, including 'The London Savoyards', and the 'New Sadler's Wells Opera'. These where usually short seasons, ranging from just one performance, up to two weeks of performances, at venues such as the Barbican Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and Sadler's Wells.

Other Gilbert and Sullivan opera's seen in London include The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, The Gondoliers, and Iolanthe. Adaptations include The Hot Mikado, by David H Bell and Rob Bowman.


1981 West End Revival at the Adephi Theatre

Opened 23 November 1981, Closed (matinee) 27 February 1982 (in repertory) at the Adelphi Theatre

Presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The cast featured James Conroy-Ward / John Reed as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Clive Harre as 'Captain Corcoran', Vivian Tierney as 'Josephine', Meston Reid as 'Ralph Rackstraw', John Ayldon as 'Dick Deadeye', and Patricia Leonard as 'Mrs Cripps (Buttercup)'.


1981 London Revival at the Collegiate Theatre

Opened 22 December 1981, Closed 9 January 1982 at the Collegiate Theatre (now Bloomsbury Theatre)

Presented by the Singers Company.

The cast featured Ronnie Stevens as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Alec McCowen as 'Captain Corcoran', Janis Kelly / Gillian Sullivan as 'Josephine', Mike Bulman as 'Ralph Rackstraw', Bruce Barry as 'Dick Deadeye', and Libby Morris as 'Mrs Cripps (Buttercup)'.

Directed by Peter Wilson, with choreography by Gillian Gregory, and designs by Cynthia Savage.


1986 West End London Revival - adapted by Bill Whelan - at the Old Vic Theatre

Previewed 22 April 1986, Opened 23 April 1986, Closed 31 May 1986 at the Old Vic Theatre

Adapted by Bill Whelan. Presented by the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

The cast featured Alan Devlin as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Paul Bently as 'Captain Corcoran', Michelle Todd as 'Josephine', William Relton as 'Ralph Rackstraw', John Kavanagh as 'Dick Deadeye', and Anita Reeves as 'Mrs Cripps (Buttercup)', with Terry Lawlor as 'Carpenter', Liz Whelan, and Molly Mackenzie as 'Aunts', Rebecca Smith, and Catherine Francoise as 'Cousins', and Marie Kelly, and Grace Kinirons as 'Sisters'.

Directed by Joe Dowling, with choreography by Mavis Ascott, sets by Frank Conway, costumes by Joan Bergin, lighting by Mark Henderson, and sound by Phil Clifford.


2000 West End London Revival at the Savoy Theatre

Opened 22 March 1995, Closed 1 April 1995 (in repertory) at Sadler's Wells Theatre Opened 27 July 1999, Closed 1 August 1999 at the Royal Festival Hall Previewed 23 February 2000, Opened 24 February 2000, Closed 22 April 2000 at the Savoy Theatre

Presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The cast at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre in 1995 featured Gordon Sandison as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Tom McVeigh as 'Captain Corcoran', Yvonne Patrick as 'Josephine', Niall Morris as 'Ralph Rackstraw', Lynton Black as 'Dick Deadeye', and Frances McCafferty as 'Mrs Cripps (Little Buttercup)'.

The cast at London's Royal Festival Hall in 1999 featured David Firth as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Tom McVeigh as 'Captain Corcoran', Yvonne Barclay as 'Josephine', Alfred Boe as 'Ralph Rackstraw', Simon Wilding as 'Dick Deadeye', and Frances McCafferty as 'Mrs Cripps (Little Buttercup)'.

The cast at the West End's Savoy Theatre in 2000 featured Sam Kelly as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Tom McVeigh as 'Captain Corcoran', Yvonne Barclay/Catherine Mikic as 'Josephine', Joseph Shovelton/Andrew Burden as 'Ralph Rackstraw', Martin Nelson as 'Dick Deadeye', and Jill Pert as 'Mrs Cripps (Little Buttercup)'.

Directed by Martin Duncan, with choreography by Lindsay Dolan, designs by Tim Hatley, and lighting by Chris Ellis.

"The show opens with a foghorn blast, and a rousing overture that reminds you as much of Sullivan's soul-aching capacity for soaring melodies as of his bluffer tendencies toward oom-pah-pah rhythms. Then the curtain rises and you are presented with sailors doing things with mops, opening up new realms for Fairy Liquid advertising. The director, Martin Duncan, has moulded this chorus to become the epitome of camp, synchronised movement. Each sailor skips around like Bambi, while en masse their gasps and exclamations bring a knowing pertness to the script that subverts every potentially innocent statement. Duncan has dug deep to unearth the double meanings in the script, so that rather than creating a veneer of innuendo, they add to the characterisation... A wonderful show to convert even hardened of Gilbert and Sullivan cynics." The Independent

"In HMS Pinafore, Sullivan never puts a musical foot wrong, but he is not yet on peak form. Gilbert, however, is already brilliant - formulating a brand of irony that has since become one of the central characteristics of the English... The cast is led by Sam Kelly, making his D'Oyly Carte debut, as Sir Joseph. His singing at first scarcely projects past row F (it relaxes and hits home later on). But his silly/serious stuffed-shirt style is perfect, and his genial warmth makes the character loveable. But the whole cast - ideally conducted by John Owen Edwards - is good, despite a few bad opera vowels from the female leads. The chorus, so central to the comedy, is superb. And the Savoy is an ideal home for Gilbert and Sullivan. Everything falls into place without force." The Financial Times

"Sullivan's memorable music, marvellously spruced up by John Owen Edwards, musical director of D'Oyly Carte, always precisely encapsulates the emotion of the moment. Back 'home' at the Savoy Theatre after 11 years' absence, the scale is ideal for these performers without amplification. Sir Joseph Porter and Little Buttercup share confidences with us without straining their 'acting' excessively. Among many bonuses, Sam Kelly's Sir Joseph is less of a scene stealer than sometimes happens, and more convincing in role... Jill Pert's Buttercup is an old trouper in this repertoire with a beefy chest register. Her histrionics and milking of applause are just kept within bounds. Tom McVeigh's Captain Corcoran is delightfully authoritative, well matched by Martin Nelson's Hammer Film-style Dick Deadeye." The London Evening Standard

HMS Pinafore in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 23 February 2000, opened on 24 February 2000, and closed on 22 April 2000


2002 West End London Revival at the Savoy Theatre

Previewed 13 December 2002, Opened 18 December 2002, Closed 1 March 2003 at the Savoy Theatre

Presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. Revival of the 2000 Savoy Theatre production.

The cast featured Sam Kelly as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Tom McVeigh as 'Captain Corcoran', Alison Rae Jones / Samantha Hay as 'Josephine', Joseph Shovelton as 'Ralph Rackstraw', Gareth Jones as 'Dick Deadeye', and Deila Jones as 'Mrs Cripps (Little Buttercup)', with Sophie-Louise Dann as 'Cousin Hebe'.

Directed by Martin Duncan, with choreography by Lindsay Dolan, designs by Tim Hatley, and lighting by Chris Ellis.

"The plot may be as absurd as any of Gilbert and Sullivan's other operettas but Gilbert's razor-edged satire and Sullivan's glorious melodious and impeccably constructed music remain a joy to hear... In this revival of Martin Duncan's witty and immaculate production, first staged in Birmingham, Pinafore is given the full works in a staging designed with great wit and style by Tim Hatley... There are fine performances all round... The small orchestra plays brightly for John Owen Edwards and the chorus is strong." The Sunday Express

"This is neo-D'Oyly. Carte, thank goodness, bright and streamlined, with the cobwebs blown away, but still true to the essential traditions. Both words and music sparkle as they should. It is Sam Kelly who takes the final bow at the end of the show, and who gets the biggest applause. Rightly so. Kelly's portrayal of Sir Joseph Porter, Ruler of the Queen's Navy, is masterly... None of the other main performances lags far behind... Tim Hatley's crisp blue and white set adds a great deal to the production's clean-cut feel. And the satire is in good working order." The Sunday Telegraph

HMS Pinafore in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 13 December 2002, opened on 18 December 2002, and closed on 1 March 2003


2005 London Revival - adapted by Herbert Appleman - at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Previewed 19 July 2005, Opened 21 July 2005, Closed 10 Sepember 2005 (in repertory) at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Adapted by Herbert Appleman.

The cast featured Desmond Barrit as 'Sir Joseph Porter', Hal Fowler as 'Captain Corcoran', Scarlett Strallen as 'Josephine', Simon Thomas as 'Ralph Rackstraw', Gary Wilmot as 'Dick Deadeye', and Lesley Nicol as 'Mrs Cripps (Little Buttercup)', with Giles Taylor as 'Boatswain', Sirine Saba as 'Cousin Hebe', Vivien Care, Tricia Crowe, Nicola Filshie, Natasha Lewis, Tobias Beer, Martin Chamberlain, Dominic Colchester, Dominic Marsh, James Millard, Alastair Parker, and Rupert Young.

Directed by Ian Talbot, with choreography by Bill Deamer, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor, and sound by Gregory Clarke.

Desmond Barrit's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Sir Toby Belch' in Timothy Sheader's revival of william Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2005; and 'Trinculo' in Nicholas Hytner's revival of william Shakespeare's The Tempest, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1989.

Hal Fowler's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Mike Connor' in Ian Talbot's revival of Noel Coward's High Society at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2003; the title role of 'Arnaud du Thil (Martin)' in Declan Donnellan's production of the Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil musical Martin Guerre at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1997; 'Cousin Kevin' in Des McAnuff's revival of Pete Townshend's Tommy at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1996; and 'Meltzi' in Rob Bettinson's production of Tommy Moeller, Greg Moeller, Russell Dunlop and Duke Minks' Leonardo the Musical at the Strand Theatre in 1993.

Scarlett Strallen's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Truly Scrumptious' in Adrian Noble's production of the Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium in 2004; the ensemble of Kelly Robinson's production of the Bob Gaudio and Jerry Leichtling musical Peggy Sue Got Married at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2001; 'Mavis Jessup' in Eric Schaeffer's production of the John Dempsey and Dana Rowe musical The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2000; and the ensemble of the original cast of Phyllida Lloyd's production of Catherine Johnson's ABBA musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999.

Gary Wilmot's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Caractacus Potts' in Adrian Noble's production of the Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium in 2003 and 2004; 'Elliot Garfield' in Rob Bettinson's production of the Marvin Hamlisch and David Zippell musical The Goodbye Girl at the Albery Theatre in 1997; 'Tony'/'Stephen' in Roger Redfarn's production of Barry Manilow's Copacabana at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1994; 'Joe' in Simon Callow's production of the Oscar Hammerstein and Georges Bizet musical Carmen Jones at the Old Vic Theatre in 1991; and 'Bill Snibson' in Mike Ockrent's production of the Noel Gay, L Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber musical Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre in 1989.

"Herbert Appleman has been fiddling with the libretto, enlarging the role of Able Seaman Dick Deadeye, so that as well as being the piece's great outsider - ugly and spurned - he now also provides almost a roguish running commentary, encouraging characters to speak their minds rather than hide behind polite euphemisms, and giving nudging reminders that we're watching an operetta, a form with its own conventions. As played by Gary Wilmot, this new Deadeye is perfectly watchable - but the character's enhanced contribution is entirely needless and at times annoyingly self-referential... Still if you can tolerate umpteem rounds of Gilbert's fastidiously literate, polysyllabic rhymes, you'll be able to suffer the production's more irritating qualities... A couple of star turns provide the evening's necessary ballast. Bewigged and foppishly made-up, Desmond Barrit maintains a wonderfully dry air as the inveterate landlubber and stickler for manners Sir Joseph Porter, performing the most lethargic hornpipe I've ever seen. Scarlett Strallen, meanwhile, is a visual and vocal delight as Josephine." The Daily Telegraph

"Herbert Appleman's version takes remarkably few liberties and tries to explore the archaic, arcane social satire of the original without attempting to update it... The score is one of the richest even Sir Arthur Sullivan ever wrote, and Steven Edis' arrangements for the band led by Catherine Jayes make Sullivan sound as if writing for a contemporary audience. Somewhere in here is a musical aching to escape from a comic opera, and the cast led by Hal Fowler as the Captain and Scarlett Strallen as his daughter do their best to help it. For a fine summer evening, an entertaining diversion." The Daily Express

"Though often superfluous, Herbert Appleman's updated script works well enough. But the new central role of scowling Deadeye hardly stretches the comic or vocal gifts of the usually amiable Gary Wilmot... Ian Talbot's production is very much in keeping with today's showtime Gilbert and Sullivan, with pleasing dance routines for a small chorus of toe-tapping tars and some characterful, decently sung performances. Desmond Barrit finds all the puffed-up pomposity in that smug landlubber Sir Joseph Porter... Scarlett Strallen is a vivacious Josephine; and Simon Thomas a likeable Ralph Rackstraw. The best singing comes from Hal Fowler's assured Captain Corcoran." The Daily Mail

HMS Pinafore in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 19 July 2005, opened on 21 July 2005, and closed on 10 Sepember 2005