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Review: ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ at 2nd Star Productions

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A merriment of song and dance from stunning cast, 2nd Star Productions’ H.M.S. Pinafore, is a toe-tapping delight. The Music is by Arthur Sullivan and Book & Lyrics by W. S. Gilbert. Director Jane B. Wingard brings together a stellar cast, whose voices fill the auditorium with joy and passion. Ms. Wingard also has a knack for set designing with a large crew of assistants working the construction, painting, decorating, and dressing. A full-scale deck of the H.M.S Pinafore, leaves quite an impression coupled with the lighting and sound designed by Garrett R. Hyde. Nathan Bowen produces this production and along with Victoria Rose Brown, they share the role of dance captains. Joe Biddle is the show’s talented musical director and Christine Asero demonstrates her brilliant skills as choreographer.

Little Buttercup (Pam Shilling) and the cast. Photo courtesy of 2nd Star Productions.

Little Buttercup (Pam Shilling) sings “A Many Years Ago” with the the cast. Photo by Nathan Jackson Photography.

The main storyline has Captain Corcoran (Brian Binney) scheming to marry off his daughter, Josephine (Emily Mudd), to the lofty Sir Joseph Porter (Paul Koch). But Josephine has another suitor in mind, a lowborn sailor, Ralph Rakestraw (James Huchla).

The Sailors, (Nathan Bowen, Wendell Holland, Michael Mathes, Eric Meadows, Eugene Valendo, and Tyler White) open with rich and robust renditions of “We sail the ocean blue,” followed by the musical stylings of Little Buttercup (Pam Shilling), who blesses the stage with her beautiful Mezzo-Soprano voice in “Hail! men o’ war’s men …”

The ensemble cast of Sisters/Cousins/Aunts, (Victoria Brown, Hillary Glass, Hannah Hall, Mari Hill, Cheramie Jackson, Brandie Peterson, Diane Schwartz, Deb Sola, Erin Culfogienis, Snowdenn Jackson, Sophia Riazi Sekowski, and Aaliyah Schulz) give an exuberance performance, “Hail! men o’ war’s men …” as both the male and female vocals blend to produce a beautiful and harmonious number.

Ralph and the Sailors give us, “The nightingale sighed for the moon’s bright ray,” and “A maiden fair to see.” Their talents shine, along with the Captain in, “My gallant crew, good morning … I am the Captain of the Pinafore.” A well-performed ditty, heads were bobbing and folks were laughing out loud, to such a fun and well-remembered song.

Enter Buttercup, who duets with the Captain to perform, “Sir, you are sad,” a very heart-felt song between these two. In Act II, their duet is, “Things are seldom seen.” As a note to the role of Buttercup, Mari Hill (Ensemble) is also the understudy.

Josephine (Emily Mudd) & Rackstraw ( ). Photo courtesy of 2nd Star Productions.

The Finale of Act I with Josephine (Emily Mudd) and Ralph Rackstraw (James Huchla) and The Company. Photo by Nathan Jackson Photography.

Josephine, played by Emily Mudd, soprano voice soars as she sings, “Sorry her lot who loves too well,” with magnificence. She repeats another stunning solo in Act II, “The hours creep on apace,” and then is joined by Captain Corcoran and Sir Joseph Porter in, “Never mind the why and wherefore,” (Act II).

The chorus of women give us an elegant number in, “Over the bright blue sea,” then the full ensemble led by various leads: The Captain, Sir Joseph, and Cousin Hebe. “Refrain, audacious tar” pairs Josephine and Ralph together that is just fabulous with Mudd’s high notes intertwining with Huchla’s velvet tenor voice.

Finale, Act I, has Ralph, Josephine, Dick Deadeye (Nicholas Mudd) and Cousin Hebe (Maureen Roult) dancing around the deck as the rest of the ensemble sings, “Can I survive this overbearing?” to a “tra-la-al” beat. Dick Deadeye shares a number with the Captain, “Kind Captain, I’ve important information.”

“Carefully on tiptoe stealing” and “Farewell, my own,” is shared with the Principals and Deadeye and then Little Buttercup’s final number is with the chorus singing, “A many years ago.” The finale/ “O joy! Oh rapture unforeseen,” closes the show with the entire cast that is enthralling.

Sir Joseph Porter (Paul Koch) and The Company. Photo courtesy of 2nd Star Productions.

‘When I Was a Lad” sung by Sir Joseph Porter (Paul Koch) with The Company. Photo by Nathan Jackson Photography.

Throughout the show, the swirling of the lady’s gowns and the sailor’s white uniforms, blends these brightly colored costumes together to offer a vivid palette against the ship’s deep brown coloring. Costuming came from Hillary Glass, while hair & make-up is by Maureen Roult.

H.M.S. Pinafore is full of antics, mistaken identities, and scheming cousins that brings this comedy to fruition. The cast should be congratulated for both their spectacular vocals and dancing as they waltz and jig their way through the entire show.

2nd Star productions’ H.M.S. Pinafore is a must see for all ages, so bring your family, kids, and friends. This cast takes the fun and foolishness of H.M.S. Pinafore to the next level with heart and weaves it into a charming tale.

Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.

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H.M.S. Pinafore plays through November 19, 2016 at 2nd Star Productions performing at The Bowie Playhouse – 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 757-5700 or (301) 832-4819, or purchase them online.

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