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Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)   
H.M.S. Pinafore  

Written by Sir W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Conducted by Roger Bingaman  
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
thru June 16  |  tickets: $48-$92   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
   Read entire review



This is a show you can get on board with!


Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)


Light Opera Works presents


H.M.S. Pinafore

Review by Anuja Vaidya

A classic work of musical theater sometimes needs a classic execution, which is precisely what Light Opera Works has done with Gilbert and Sullivan‘s H.M.S. Pinafore. Everything about this production seems classic – from the grand sets, to beautifully detailed costumes, to the finely tuned voices of the cast. If one of the purposes of theater is to transport the audience to another world, this production certainly succeeds in that aspect.

Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)
The story at the heart of all the singing and dancing is quite a simple one. A common crew member on the H.M.S. Pinafore has fallen madly and irrevocably in love with the Captain’s daughter, Josephine. But would she deign to stoop so low as to return his feelings? Turns out, she would. The only thing standing in their way is the fact that Josephine is promised to another, namely the "ruler of the Queen’s navy," Sir Joseph Porter, KCB. Josephine’s father is determined to see his daughter marry above her class rather than below, until an unexpected turn of events changes his circumstances.

Despite the fact that this show is full of character archetypes, exaggerated stage whispers and slapstick comedy, it doesn’t feel over-done. These elements fit in with the highly stylized world that the script creates. One of the most winning aspects of the show, and one that the cast plays perfectly, are the many meta-moments in the production, where the show takes delight in noting that it is, in fact, a show. This leads to some hilarious and highly self-referential moments.

Kudos to Adam Veness and Darcy Elora Hofer for set design and costume design respectively. The set fits the grand nature of the show by filling up the stage – so much so that it draws you in to their nautical world. The attention to detail of the costumes also adds to this world being created on stage.

Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)
Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)

Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)
Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)

The cast gives enthusiastic and enjoyable performances. The dance routines are simple but executed well, as are all the chorus numbers. Sarah Kelly as Josephine and Dane M. Thomas as Ralph Rackstraw have lovely voices and use them well to portray the seemingly star-crossed lovers. Dawn Bless as Buttercup has some wonderful comic moments. She particularly shines in the scene when she finally reveals the truth about the Captain. But it is Michael Cavalieri as Captain Corcoran and James Harms as Sir Joseph Porter who absolutely steal the show with finely crafted performances. They compliment each other perfectly. Cavalieri in particular finds the nuances in his character and portrays them perfectly. In fact, I felt the most sympathy for the Captain and wanted to see him walk away from the story a happy man.

Light Opera Works production of H.M.S. Pinafore is all that it should be – a large-scale production, with an encompassing set and a great score. The theater company also goes a step further and gives us a production with wonderful attention to detail. Light Opera Works manages to stay true to the classic script without making it seem tired, partly because of its wonderful and energetic cast. It is certainly worth spending a night aboard the H.M.S. Pinafore!


Rating: ★★★½



H.M.S. Pinafore continues through June 16th at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map), with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Wednesdays and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets are $48-$92, and are available by phone (847-920-5360) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at More information at  (Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)

Photos by Chris Ocken 




James Harms (Sir Joseph Porter), Michael Cavalieri (Captain Corcoran), Dane M. Thomas (Ralph Rackstraw), Ryan de Ryke (Dick Deadeye), Michael Roemer (Bill Bobstay), Robert Quintanilla (Bob Becket), Sarah Kelly (Josephine), Maggie Clennon Reberg (Hebe), Dawn Bless (Buttercup)

behind the scenes

Rudy Hogenmiller (stage director, choreographer),  Roger Bingaman (conductor, chorus master), Katie Beeks (production manager), Adam Veness (set design, tech design), Andrew Meyers (lighting), Darcy Elora Hofer (costumes), David Lee Bradke (sound design), Penny Lane Studios LLC. (hair and make-up design); Rachel Finn (props design), Diana Brodick (orchestra coordinator), Tom Campbell (stage manager), Ryan Hamman (asst. director), Will Dean (lighting board programmer), John Kelly (lighting board operator), Michael Wax, Samantha Treible (spotlight operators), Daniel Carlyon (sound board operator), Alicia Ann Lees (costume assistant), Tatiana Srutwa (hair and make-up assistant), David Servillo (running crew), Chris Ocken (photos)

Review: H.M.S. Pinafore (Light Opera Works)


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