“H.M.S. Pinafore,” also coined as “The Lass That Loved A Sailor,” was performed virtually by the Department of Performing Arts Opera Ensemble Nov. 12.
“H.M.S. Pinafore” premiered in 1878, written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Pinafore is a love-story comedy about two star-crossed lovers aboard the Royal Navy ship, the H.M.S. Pinafore.
Captain Corcoran’s daughter Josephine is in love with a lower-class sailor named Ralph Rackstraw. However, the captain forbids the marriage, wanting Josephine to marry Sir Joseph, First Lord of the Admiralty, instead.
Weber State University’s performance of “H.M.S. Pinafore” was originally supposed to premiere during the 2020 spring semester, but due to COVID-19 had to be shut down and rescheduled.
Director Karen Bruestle described the experience as heartbreaking when the show was shut down.
“We were only two weeks away from opening the show; everything and everybody was ready to go,” Bruestle said. “Initially, we thought that we would be able to get back together and be able to open in October, but then that became clear that wasn’t going to happen.”
Bruestle then had some decisions to make. She came up with the idea of filming select scenes and little vignettes for the cast to perform.
Performances included “I’m Called Little Buttercup,” “A Maiden Fair to See,” “Over the Bright Blue Sea,” “When I Was a Lad,” “Fair Moon to Thee I Sing” and “Kind Captain I’ve Important Information”
Along with filming, Bruestle and the cast had a zoom interview with professor of music Carey Campbell, where they talked about the process. Bruestle came up with this idea of the interview portion to add personal touch.
“I wanted people to understand where we came from, what led us to the filming,” Bruestle said.
For Kiera Bowden, who played Josephine, the most difficult part was keeping up her motivation when having to go back and do the same thing over and over.
“We auditioned for this opera over a year ago. Never knowing when or if we would be able do this performance in any sort of format was really difficult,” Bowden said.
Becca Schull, who played a female version of the character Dick Deadeye, said it was different performing without an audience.
“As performers we really feed off the energy from the audience,” Schull said. “I had to think differently about what I was doing and get that energy from being self-motivated rather than from the audience.”
For Dylan Thomas, who played Sir Joseph, this was his first opera performance with WSU.
“Overall, I think this experience was different for me,” Thomas said. “I had fun being able to get my feet wet and exploring another part of the arts. At the same time, it was also difficult performing with masks and not being around a ton of people. It was a completely different format.”
Brookelyn Bell, who played Buttercup/Mrs. Cripps, said her favorite moments were being with her castmates.
“We were together everyday for rehearsals,” Bell said. “We had so many laughs and great moments, and now those are great memories.”
Bell said even though the performance didn’t go quite how she expected, there was still good that came out of the experience.
“Having this being recorded and then available to watch really made it accessible for a lot of people who might not have been able to attend those two nights initially,” Bell said. “I hope people take away the heart that we had for this show and enjoy this different experience with us.”
The Selections and Documentary from H.M.S. Pinafore is available to view at https://www.weber.edu/PerformingArts/HMS_Pinafore_2020.html.