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H.M.S. Pinafore, a Comic Class Clash that Tugs at Your Heartstrings

Monday, April 18, 2022

LAWRENCE — Love doesn’t conform; it gets salty, particularly in "H.M.S. Pinafore," also known as "The Lass That Loved a Sailor," where W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan use satire to poke fun at the British class system through the lens of a love story.

"H.M.S. Pinafore" logo with ship and musical notesThis co-production with the University of Kansas School of Music concludes the University Theatre’s 2021-22 season. The comedic opera features the KU Symphony Orchestra and is stage-directed by John Stephens, professor of voice and opera, and is designed by faculty and a graduate student in the Department of Theatre & Dance.

Crafton-Preyer Theatre stage will be transformed, taking audiences into the lamp-lit nautical night and also to dock where Little Buttercup comes aboard.

John Stephens“In 'Pinafore,' as with all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the audience is treated to an evening of beautiful and lively music, set to some of the cleverest lyrics in the English language. The story shows that life holds secrets we certainly don’t anticipate,” Stephens said. “As Buttercup sings, ‘Things are seldom what they seem ….’  Among others, we meet the class-conscious and slightly neurotic captain; the opportunistic Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Navy; and Dick Deadeye — my personal favorite — who sees through the hypocrisies of his society but is shunned due to his personal appearance.”

“H.M.S. Pinafore" plays at 7:30 p.m. April 29, May 3 and May 5 and at 2:30 p.m. May 1 in Murphy Hall. Purchase tickets online at kutheatre.com by calling 785-864-3982, or by stopping by the University Theatre box office in Murphy Hall, M-F noon-5 p.m. All patrons are highly encouraged to wear a mask while attending performances.

The creative team is rounded out by Dennis Christilles, associate professor of scenography, as scenic designer; Kelly Vogel, resident artist/academic associate, as costume designer; Lindsay Webster, an MFA student in scenography, as lighting designer; Francis Ho, a DMA in orchestral conducting from Nashville, Tennessee, as conductor; Tara Burgat, a student from Spring Hill, as choreographer; and Bailey Dobbins, a recent KU graduate, as stage manager.

Many of the roles are double-cast to give students more opportunities to contribute to this production, Stephens said. Individuals’ performance dates can be found on kutheatre.com. The cast consists of Bethany Dart, a graduate student in music from Bellevue, Nebraska, and Lauren Newstrom, a junior in music education from Omaha, Nebraska, as Josephine; Sarah Curtis, a second-year DMA in vocal performance, and Deanna Eberhart, a first-year graduate student in voice and church music from Kansas City, Missouri, as Little Buttercup; Daniel Loganbill, a DMA in vocal performance and church music, as Sir Joseph; Will Simpson, a graduate student in music from Prairie Village, as Captain Corcoran; Zack Devin, a second-year DMP in music education-vocal pedagogy from Robinson, Illinois, as Ralph; Eli Panek, a senior in music from Kansas City, Missouri, as Dick Deadeye; Clara Boyd, a senior in voice performance and pre-medicine double major from Moran, as Cousin Hebe; Yoseph Park, a graduate student in opera, as Boatswain; and Reed Schenkel, a junior in vocal performance from Lawrence, as Carpenter.

The women’s ensemble consists of Olly Mitchell, a freshman in theatre from Maize; Elizabeth Webster, a sophomore in music therapy from O’Fallon, Missouri; Natalie Sledd, a freshman in vocal performance from Kansas City, Missouri; Morgan Goeser, a sophomore in speech-language-hearing from Lawrence; Meg Schiliro, a junior in theatre and voice from Elmhurst, Illinois; Hannah Gassman, a sophomore in voice and theatre from Deerfield, Illinois; Arianna Stein, a senior in voice performance from St. Louis; and Stephanie Born, a sophomore in vocal performance from Wichita.

The men’s ensemble consists of Benjamin Sawchak, a senior in vocal performance from Gardner; Colin Bradt, a junior in theatre and voice from Lawrence; Joshua Nobles, a junior in music education from Sibley, Iowa; Weston Curnow, a sophomore in English and philosophy from Olathe; Christian Laredo, a music education major from East Peoria, Illinois; and Dmitry Tyshlek, a junior in business analytics from Olathe.

The University Theatre is a production wing of KU's Department of Theatre & Dance, offering six public productions during the academic year. The University Theatre productions are funded in part by Student Senate fees and supported by Truity Credit Union. For more information on the University Theatre or to purchase tickets, visit KUtheatre.com.

The Department of Theatre & Dance is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.


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