Sometimes what you need from a night of theater is laughter and silliness. That’s the goal of the new Good Company Players production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore,” which is in its opening weekend at the 2nd Space Theatre.
We caught up with director J. Daniel Herring for some insights on this beloved and still lively classic.
Q: Tell us about the show.
A: Waves of laughter and a bit of silliness buoy the show, a tale of a captain’s daughter who falls in love with a lowly sailor. Along the way, the comic operetta lampoons the British class system, the Royal Navy and politics. The show is very similar in its downright fun approach to telling a story through the art form of opera just as in “Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado.”
Q: How did “Pinafore” and Gilbert and Sullivan influence the development of American musical theater?
A: When I first began working on “H.M.S. Pinafore,” I just had this overwhelming feeling of vaudeville as I analyzed each vignette. I also think there are some moments in the show that are certainly reflective of scenes from American Musical Theatre when tempo and rhythm are used for comic effect such as in “Pick-A-Little, Talk- A-Little” from “The Music Man.”
Q: Tell us about your two leading actors. What qualities do they bring to their roles?
A: Meg Clark and James Schott bring an honesty to the roles of Josephine and Ralph even in the melodramatic vaudevillian style I have used as the inspiration for my direction and staging. Also, they both have stunning voices that are both pleasing to listen to with spot-on interpretations of the lyrics.
Q: What is the most challenging moment for your cast in terms of complexity or speed of lyrics?
A: The “British Tar” number was challenging, but fun for the cast for two reasons. One, the lyrics are fast-paced and require precise diction. Secondly, yours truly staged the number using “hand jive” type movements corresponding to the verbs in each phrase of the song. And, not to mention, when the song is repeated at the end of Act 1 sometimes lyrics and movements are performed using a technique similar to singing in a round.
Q: It’s rare for 2nd Space to host a musical or operetta. What are the challenges of working in this space?
A: What I like about presenting a musical in the 2nd Space is the way in which the sound is distributed – it feels and sounds like “surround sound.” This created a challenge for the staging of certain group numbers so that the audience isn’t just hearing one part of the song, but all the parts blended together for a layered and textured effect.
Q: Share with us one special thing or moment the audience can look forward to.
A: Keep your eye on Dick Deadeye! That’s all I will say.
Q: Anything to add?
A: This production is really just about having some fun – sitting back, rolling with the punches and enjoying some moments taken directly from the vaudeville stages of a day gone by. And, yes, some very good singing, too!
- Through April 23
- 2nd Space Theatre, 928 E. Olive Ave.
- www.gcplayers.com, 559-266-0660
- $20, $17 students and seniors