The Bulwark of England’s Greatness

The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players is clearly a labor of love.  At a recent performance of H.M.S. Pinafore, its founder, artistic director, general manager, and conductor Albert Bergeret announced that it was Bring Your Grandparents Day; during intermission, he would be personally signing up families to take backstage tours after the show, each one led by a different character from the opera.  At odd moments throughout the show, as if he couldn’t delegate all the hammy fun to his actors, Mr. Bergeret would insert himself into the drama, conducting the orchestra against the will of Sir Joseph Porter (James Mills) or Captain Corcoran (David Auxier).  This is all to say that as much as I enjoyed H.M.S. Pinafore—and I did so tremendously—I think the cast and crew enjoyed it even more.

Still, the number of responsibilities Mr. Bergeret has assumed might be misleading: this is no slipshod organization.  In Pinafore, Mr. Mills is particularly delightful, clucking around the stage with flawless British what-whatishness and putting both pinky fingers to extremely good use.  Though our juvenile, Cameron Smith, is about as stilted as those actors tend to be, his romantic counterpart, Kate Bass, fills in the gap with her exquisite soprano voice.

There is something charmingly quixotic about mounting four operas a year by these now-underperformed Victorian satirists.  The fact that they succeed so handsomely is just a welcome bonus.

H.M.S. Pinafore runs through December 31st at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.  695 Park Avenue  New York, NY.  2 hours 30 minutes.  One intermission.

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Aaron Botwick

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