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Campus Auditorium

H.M.S. Pinafore sets sail in April

HMS Pinafore set design

By Naomi Keeler

The IU South Bend Theatre Company and South Bend Symphonic Choir will join forces to present Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore in April.  The musical will be directed by Associate Dean Randy Colborn; Dean Marvin Curtis will serve as music director. The show premieres Thursday, April 12th at 8pm in the Campus Auditorium, with performances extending Sunday, April 15th.

First produced in 1878, this naval love story satirizes the British class system, patriotism, party politics, and the Royal Navy. “It is fun, accessible, and yet a classic,” says Colburn. “They [Gilbert and Sullivan] set the stage for a revolution in musical theatre that led the way in the first half of the 20th century, wowing the American stage with their works almost immediately after they premiered in London.”  

Staging a Gilbert and Sullivan show is a terrific academic experience for students because this genre brings together music, dance, lights, sets, costumes, and drama. Costume students must work within a time period, England in the late 1800s, for this production. Students in set, lighting, and sound design have the opportunity to work with a large cast and show.  Says Curtis, “An opera program allows us to build on a music tradition using theater and dance. Our students have a chance to experience something close to an opera in size and scope. The rigors of this kind of work prepare them for the bigger experiences of opera.”

H.M.S. Pinafore “certainly satirizes the collective obsession with status and prestige but it does so with a "wink-and-a-smile,"” admits Colburn. This 125-year-old opera may resonate more with us than we expect because of current events. “I think in this age of 99% and Occupy Wall Street there are some lessons that can be learned”, says Curtis, “Gilbert and Sullivan poke fun at those in power because they were either born into privilege or maneuvered their way into it. In the end of the operetta, one sees that rank has no privilege. Love knows no class and conquers all.”

In the end, it is the experience of performing an opera with local talent that is most important. “I want our patrons to have a great time watching our students and members of the community come together.  It really is about working together and appreciating each other’s gifts,” expresses Curtis, “I want the audience to leave feeling they have had a musical experience, seen extraordinary talent, witnessed a story that is timeless, and want to come back and see us again.”

// H.M.S. Pinafore

// 8 pm April 12-14

// 2 pm Sunday, April 15

// Campus Auditorium, Northside Hall

// Tickets are $7 in advance, $9 at the door. Student tickets are free with valid I.D.