In part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of 2nd Star Productions’ H.M.S. Pinafore, meet Brian Binney
Joel: Where have local theatergoers seen you perform before on our local stages? What roles have you played?
Brian: I started acting about 10 years ago with Laurel Mill Playhouse. In the last few years I’ve done shows with Greenbelt Arts Center, the Rude Mechanicals, Dead Cat productions at the DC Fringe Festival, and all three Bowie theater companies – Prince George’s Little Theatre, Bowie Community Theatre, and Second Star. I’ve been in lots of dramatic comedies, several musicals, and a few classics. My last big role at Second Star was Fred Graham in Kiss Me Kate, which had a little bit of everything.
Why did you want to be in 2nd Star’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore? Have you ever appeared in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta before? If so, who did you play?
I played the Pirate King in Laurel Mill Playhouse’s Pirates of Penzance in about 2008 and have always really enjoyed the music of Pinafore, though I was not familiar with the story. Second Star pulls out all of the stops in its productions with phenomenal sets and music – the idea of doing this show with the talented, friendly, supportive folks at Second Star and the Bowie Playhouse was hard to resist, so I didn’t.
Who do you play in this production, and how are you and your character alike and different?
I am the Captain of the Pinafore (and a right good Captain, too). We both have a bit of the sea in our bones (I was in the Coast Guard for 20 years), we both have young adult daughters we would do just about anything for, we both sometimes wish life was a lot simpler than it is, and we both can get a little out of control when we get excited. We both burst into song a lot, too. Other than being born about a hundred years and several thousand miles apart, we’re basically the same guy.
How did you prepare for your role, and what challenges did you face when preparing for your role? How did your director and musical director help you resolve these challenges?
I am told I tend to become annoyingly like my characters around the house for a month or so before a show opens. Captain Corcoran is fortunately more pleasant to be around than some. I don’t have formal voice training to speak of, and learned to sing mostly with my guitar, so I sometimes go off in my own direction, rhythm, and tempo with a song. Joe and Jane can get it all back on track with just a few words, or sometimes just a look. And I rely a lot on my dance partners to make me look like I have a clue in that department.
Gilbert and Sullivan operettas have lots of ‘punny lines.’ What are some of your favorite lyrics and puns that your character says and sings? What are your favorite lyrics and puns that other characters sing and recite?
I don’t want to give away the jokes – you really need to hear them in context and character. I particularly enjoy playing out the mutual fascination in the scenes between the Captain and Buttercup and the conflicts with Sir Joseph. But I think my favorite part of the show is the “Repent, Audacious Tar” scene where Josephine tells Ralph to get lost while showing the audience how much she likes him. The dialogue, lyrics, and music are perfect, deeply moving, and intensely silly at the same time. And Emily and James perform it brilliantly.
What themes from Pinafore can today’s audiences relate to? What makes Gilbert and Sullivan’s works so timeless?
Every dad wants what’s best for his daughter, and most have a hard time understanding what that is. The themes of treating wealth, social status, and bluster as substitutes for competence also resonate. And everybody loves snappy repartee and sappy love stories – Pinafore has plenty of both!
What other character besides the one you are playing is so much like you and how?
I can definitely relate to poor, misunderstood Dick Deadeye, who is just trying to be helpful, whether he’s offering tidbits of unsolicited advice without the sugar coating, or handing implements of destruction to the distraught.
What are you doing next on the stage after H.M.S. Pinafore is over?
You never know until they cast you! I have been immersed in theater pretty continuously since May, so I should probably take a little break.
What do you want audience members to take with them after seeing H.M.S. Pinafore?
Gilbert and Sullivan earworms and a firm resolve to come back to the Bowie Playhouse, often.
H.M.S. Pinafore plays from October 29th to November 19, 2016 at 2nd Star Productions performing at Bowie Playhouse – 16500 Whitemarsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets call (410) 757-5700 or (301) 832-4819 or purchase them online .
‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ at 2nd Star Productions reviewed by Danielle Angeline.