Brought to the stage by US BANK, The HMS Pinafore will take dock at the Niswonger for an uproarious production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic on Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 PM. Crewed by the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, this comedic opera will skewer class distinction, take some pokes at politics (and the Royal Navy, of course) and teach a lesson or two about human nature.  ”It’s all a take on the excesses of human nature. That’s why it’s so popular 100, 150 years later,” said Albert Bergeret, artistic director and general manager of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. This huge stage production which features well known songs combined with a large pit orchestra will have the audience laughing from beginning to end.

H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, England, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time. H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.

The story takes place aboard the British ship HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. She abides by her father’s wishes at first, but Sir Joseph’s advocacy of the equality of humankind encourages Ralph and Josephine to overturn conventional social order. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. The captain discovers this plan, but, as in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically near the end of the story.

Drawing on several of his earlier “Bab Ballad” poems, Gilbert imbued this plot with mirth and silliness. The opera’s humour focuses on love between members of different social classes and lampoons the British class system in general. Pinafore also pokes good-natured fun at patriotism, party politics, the Royal Navy, and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. The title of the piece comically applies the name of a garment for girls and women, a pinafore, to the fearsome symbol of a naval warship.

Pinafore’s extraordinary popularity in Britain, America and elsewhere was followed by the similar success of a series of Gilbert and Sullivan works, including The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. Their works, later known as the Savoy operas, dominated the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade and continue to be performed today. The structure and style of these operas, particularly Pinafore, were much copied and contributed significantly to the development of modern musical theatre.

The rollicking, tuneful H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert & Sullivan’s first international hit. Don’t miss the intrigue on the high seas and romance among very different classes in this charming, fully staged production, where “broad comedy and stylish singing carry the day.” (The New York Times).
For the first time in the Northwest Ohio Region, experience British humour at it’s finest when HMS Pinafore is performed at the Niswonger on Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are on sale ranging from $22-$37.
Niswonger Box Office 419-238-NPAC, 10700 SR 118, Van Wert, OH. Box Office hours are Monday – Friday, Noon – 4 PM. For more information and to order tickets online, visit

POSTED: 01/08/14 at 9:21 pm. FILED UNDER: Entertainment