Photo-G&S Society of Louisville


H.M.S. Pinafore

By Gilbert and Sullivan
Directed by Kathy Norton

Review by Annette Skaggs

Entire contents copyright © 2015 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.

Even if you don’t consider yourself knowledgeable of music or even musical theater, there is a good chance that you have heard any number of Gilbert and Sullivan samples; writers and directors have borrowed their melodies and storylines since the late 1800s. Even Seth MacFarland of Family Guy fame borrows from the G & S catalogue.

Several years ago Jeanne-Marie Rogers (Pinafore’s music director) told me her thoughts about starting a Gilbert and Sullivan Society, I was very enthusiastic. I loved the idea of bringing more G & S to the Louisville community, as it once had been when the late Thomson Smilie of the Kentucky Opera would hold his festivals. I had missed those. I happily applaud Ms. Rogers on all of the hard work that she and her band of merry assistants have assembled in the creation of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Louisville.

So let’s talk of the latest offering, H.M.S. Pinafore, or The Lass That Loved a Sailor, easily recognized by such melodies as “…I’m called Little Buttercup”, “A British tar is a soaring soul” and “He is an Englishman”. The story is of Josephine, daughter of Captain Corcoran, commander of the H.M.S. Pinafore, who is unhappily betrothed to Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty. She truly loves Ralph Rackstraw, an able seaman on her father’s ship. He loves her back.  What fun!

The stage is set up like the stern of a great ship with cartoonish characteristics that help provide a multi-dimensional effect. I was quite impressed with the set: simple and engaging. The use of only a few props was an excellent decision as with a large cast on a modest stage, the less in the way, the better. Costumes were fantastic: true to the nautical feel of the late 1800’s and not too constraining, to allow for movement and singing and/or speech.

Knowing the cast and crew from previous productions, my expectation was high, and I am happy to report they were well met.

Gary Crockett’s Captain was diplomatic and regal. Colleen Calvey played Buttercup just as Buttercup should be played, with slyness and shyness. Jeff Rogers’ Bill Bobstay was delightful and provoked one of the biggest whoops and hollers of the evening from the audience. Michael Purintun was perfectly cast as Sir Joseph, providing generous tone and texture to the role. Tony Pursley as Ralph was engaging, both musically and in his interactions with his fellow ensemble members. Deborah Mae Hill (Josephine): I can only say that I believe we will see and hear you on many more stages. Quite lovely, indeed.

Kudos to Director Kathy Norton and Musical Director Rogers for inserting various “Easter Eggs” throughout the operetta. Don’t know what an Easter Egg is? Come see the show, you’ll figure it out. The entrance of Sir Porter is worth it alone!!

Bravo Tutti

H.M.S. Pinafore

Friday, July 31 8:00 PM
Saturday, August 1 8:00 PM
Sunday, August 2 2:00 PM

Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Louisville
Spalding University Auditorium
South 4th Street
Louisville, KY 40203

Tickets available at
or by calling (502) 439-6007
or email your name and ticket order to

Regular: $15.00
Student: $5.00


Annette Skaggs[box_light]Annette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.[/box_light]