Talented cast steer opera to success

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HASS, the cast from HMS Pinafore
HASS, the cast from HMS Pinafore
14 May 2017 9:39AM

FOLLOWING the success of last November’s Fiddler on the Roof, Hexham Amateur Stage Society’s next performance was always going to be a ‘must see’ for theatre goers.

The society returned to the Queen’s Hall stage last weekend with its version of the Gilbert and Sullivan comedy opera, HMS Pinafore.

It’s the story of gallant sailor Ralph Rackstraw (Will Long) who falls in love with his captain’s daughter, Josephine (Liesl Allcock).

But it’s not all plain sailing – for Captain Corcoran (Mike Routledge) does not want Josephine to marry beneath her station, and believes Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, is a better suitor.

It leads to a three-tier tale of class, social boundaries, envy and jealousy, with many unlikely twists and turns leading to a happy ending.

With much of the plot sung rather than spoken, HMS Pinafore was a demanding and lyric-laden task for the lead characters, and a chorus team relied upon for timely backing vocals.

Fortunately the on-stage chemistry ensured it was a joy from start to finish. All eyes were on Will Long, who starred in his debut performance for HASS six months ago.

He brought romance, pride and a determination to overcome class boundaries to the stage, as well as his renowned singing voice.

The intentional comedy and chaos of the play was encompassed by Mike Routledge, whose skipping and dancing in the role of captain brought hysterical laughter from an appreciative audience.

He struck a wonderful rapport with Sir Joseph (Peter Cooke), whose parody of the character’s aristocratic position brought well-timed vocals about polishing door handles and working his way to the top of the tree.

A real show highlight was a pompom-inspired song involving Sir Joseph, the captain and his daughter, which ended with the trio whirling around the stage on push scooters.

Liesl Allcock’s abilities as an accomplished singer shone throughout, as she portrayed the dilemma of a love-torn young woman through several heart-wrenching numbers.

In the end, the captain fell for his beloved Buttercup (Katy Burke), who brought energy to several scenes in this, her first principal role.

There were notable performances from Lee Falkingham as the dreaded Dick Deadeye, Neil Richardson as Boatswain, Ruby Westlake as Hebe, and Mike Hunter as Boatswain’s Mate, as well as a talented team of chorus members.

A superb orchestra included one of last November’s main on-stage characters, Clair Applegarth, on piano.

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