Cast Size: Small (1-10) • Medium (5-21) • Large (14+). Vocal Demands: Easy • Moderate. Dance Requirements: Some Dancing Required • Minimal. Good For: Elementary School • High School • College/University • Amateur/Community • Professional Theatre • Religious Organization.
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When Gilbert and Sullivan decided that their fourth collaboration would take place on a ship, Gilbert took his task seriously. He spent a day of research exploring the tall ships docked at Portsmouth, England, sketching the H.M.S Thunderer, the H.M.S Victory, and the H.M.S. St. Vincent. From his sketches he built a model of the deck of the fictional H.M.S. Pinafore, representing all the characters with colored blocks. Using this model, he planned out all the blocking before the show was even cast.
Gilbert was racked with anxiety about the production. He would stay up all night writing and rewriting the libretto; once rehearsals had begun, he spent all day and all night at the theater. His gout was acting up, which made him irritable. He was terrified that H.M.S. PINAFORE would flop.
And indeed, when the show opened on May 25, 1878 at the Opera Comique, it looked as though Gilbert's fears would come true. A heat wave was sweeping London, and a crowded, stuffy theater was the last place people wanted to be. (In the days before air conditioning, a heat wave could absolutely kill a show.) Critics were generally favorable to H.M.S. PINAFORE, but not effusive; the Daily Telegraph predicted that it would “soon subside into nothingness.” Discouraged, the producers posted closing notices and relinquished the show's rights to Gilbert, Sullivan, and producer Richard D'Oyly-Carte.
It was Sullivan who came up with the idea that would save their show. Every night, he conducted a series called the Promenade Concerts; one night, he slipped in an orchestral selection from H.M.S. PINAFORE. It was a smash success, and soon everyone wanted to see the show. By the end of August, every performance was sold out. Gilbert and Sullivan had created their first blockbuster, which ran for a total of 571 performances.
Then came the drama. The former producers, who had lost confidence in the show and given up the rights to it, were angered that the show was suddenly making money—and that they were getting none of it. To get revenge, they hired thugs to invade the stage during a performance and steal all the scenery! Luckily, the show's stagehands bravely fought off the thugs; the scenery was saved, and the show went on.
Today, H.M.S. PINAFORE remains one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most enduringly popular operas. Except for THE MIKADO, it has more recordings than any of their other works. Many of its lines (“What, never?” “No, never!” “What, never?” “Well...hardly ever!”) have become familiar catchphrases, and it is not uncommon to see the opera referenced in popular culture. (Who can forget the time Bart Simpson stalled his would-be murderer by convincing him to sing the entire score of H.M.S. PINAFORE?)
The Daily Telegraph had to eat its words. Far from disappearing into nothingness, H.M.S. PINAFORE is one for the ages.
Vocal Range of Characters:
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- HMS PINAFORE - Orchestration Package (14 Books/15 Players)
- 1 – FULL SCORE (CONDUCTOR)
- 1 – FLUTE (Doubling Piccolo)
- 1 – OBOE
- 1 – CLARINET (Doubling Alto Clarinet)
- 1 – HORN
- 1 – TRUMPET (Optional Alto Trumpet)
- 1 – TROMBONE
- 2 – PERCUSSION (see "Materials Notes", under "Production Information")
- 1 – VIOLIN I (Divisi)
- 1 – VIOLIN II ( Divisi)
- 1 – VIOLA
- 1 – CELLO
- 1 – BASS
- Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
- 20 – Libretto/Vocal Books
- 1 – Logo CD
- 2 – PIANO VOCAL SCORE
- Digital Logo
- Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pack
- 10 – Libretto/Vocal Books
- PINAFORE - PRE-PRODUCTION PACKAGE
- 1 – Libretto/Vocal Books
- 1 – PIANO VOCAL SCORE
Singing, dancing ensemble consisting of the First Lord's Sisters, his Cousins, his Aunts, Sailors, Marines, etc. - as desired.
The R. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB - First Lord of the Admiralty
Captain Corcoran - Commanding H.M.S. Pinafore
Ralph Rackstraw - Able Seaman
Dick Deadeye - Boatswain's Mate
Bill Bobstay - Boatswain's Mate
Bob Becket - Carpenter's Mate
Tom Tucker - Midshipmite
Sergeant of Marines
Josephine - The Captain's Daughter
Cousin Hebe - Sir Joseph's First Cousin
Mrs. Cripps / Little Buttercup - A Portsmouth Bumboat Woman
Chorus of First Lord's Sisters, his Cousins, his Aunts, Sailors, Marines, etc.