Director – Wilma Gillanders MBE
Musical Director – Scott Matheson
Sir Joseph Porter K.C.B. – Edward Dickens
Captain Corcoran – Brian Gunnee
Ralph Rackstraw – Matthew Burns
Dick Deadeye – Gregor Cameron
Bill Bobstay (Boatswain) – Callum Turner
Ben Ballast (Boatswain’s Mate) – Al Seymour
Bob Becket (Carpenter) – Connor Metcalfe
Josephine – Lesley-Ann Hastie
Cousin Hebe – Miranda Evans
Little Buttercup – Kathryn Hunter
Blossom (Bumboat Lady 2) – Cat Gellatly
Bubbles (Bumboat Lady 3) – Nadya Albertsson
Andrew Brebner, Ross Cumming, Hayden Dunstan, Lewis Elliott,
Jim Gray, Derrick McClure, Leslie McLeish, Brian Maitland,
Jack Orr, Adam Warren
Jo Morrison, Hazie Robinson, Katharina Schnitzspahn
Lisa Johnston, Marta Koszlak, Anna Maldini,
Alix Mann, Keira Smith
Anna Hamilton, Guoda Klepsyte,
Elaine MacDonald, Jan McRobbie
IN THE PRESS
REVIEW by Alan Cooper (Herald Scotland)
ABERDEEN GILBERT AND SULLIVAN SOCIETY
DIRECTOR: WILMA GILLANDERS MBE
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: SCOTT MATHESON
ABERDEEN ARTS CENTRE THEATRE
Wednesday 15th February, 2017
Aberdeen Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of HMS Pinafore was a dazzling feast for the eyes as well as for the ears. The staging itself was unique – startlingly brilliant. The Arts Centre Stage was exploited to the maximum. But where was the orchestra? Actually it was right at the back of the stage, completely hidden away behind the rear cyclorama leaving the rest of the stage which was further expanded into the front of the audience for the actors and singers. At the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, Wagner did something similar putting his orchestra underneath the stage so that the audience would concentrate on the drama. Musical Director Scott Matheson’s version of this idea was made to work by having the onstage performers see him on a TV screen behind the audience. Until my attention was drawn to this clever system, I wondered how the soloists and chorus were able to keep everything together with such perfect precision – and that they did. They were wonderful. Another advantage of this system was the way in which it allowed the orchestra to really play out without disrupting the balance between them and the singers. The orchestral sound was fabulous – rich, glossy and polished to perfection, an absolutely professional performance.
The programme states the following- “The summer of ‘59. A seaside town. A small Rep Company at the end of the pier are set to entertain the holidaymakers with their latest offering – a cheap and cheerful, bright and breezy, free and easy HMS Pinafore ….” The sound of seagulls filled the auditorium and then during the Overture, members of the cast drew us gradually into the production with scenes of preparation during the weeks before the actual performance opened. What a brilliant idea!
Then we were off into the production proper. The stage was filled with jolly sailors telling us in song that “We sail the ocean blue”- fantastic strong singing. On to the stage came Little Buttercup played by Kathryn Hunter along with her three Bumboat women. They were rather more rumbustious, a touch bawdy even than what I was used to, but then that was a school production with boys in drag and women dealing with sailors would probably have been every bit as outgoing – so well done Kathryn for your strong luscious performance.
This production had a particularly strong male cast. Matthew Burns as the romantic interest, Ralph Rackstraw, wowed us all with his fabulous tenor singing. A fine vocal performance too with finely judged moments of comedy, “What never? Well hardly ever!” from Brian Gunnee as Captain Corcoran. His real beard was perfect for the part. Edward Dickens as Sir Joseph Porter was just right and he too sang well. His trio, “Never mind the why and wherefore” with Brian Gunnee and the lovely Lesley-Ann Hastie as Josephine was an absolute delight. There was another high point of ensemble singing in this production when Matthew Burns was joined by Callum Turner as the Boatswain and Connor Metcalfe as the Carpenter’s Mate in “A British Tar” – absolutely brilliant.
The female chorus was excellent too and Lesley-Anne Hastie was bright and attractive both in her appearance and her singing.
Gregor Cameron as Dick Deadeye was great alongside Brian Gunnee in “Kind Captain, I’ve important information” although when he had to join in the choruses his acting as the “baddie” tended to be lost.
Never mind, it was altogether a great production and the inclusion of some older cast members made sense of the story. It was great to see some of the “old stagers” of the Society still ready to be up there – Leslie McLeish and J. Derrick McClure for instance. Above all, from beginning to end I got the impression that everybody onstage was enjoying the performance every bit as much as I was – and that is saying something!