MARQUETTE – The Northern Michigan University music department will present H.M.S. Pinafore April 23-25 at Forest Roberts Theatre. The opera examines a common theme of Gilbert and Sullivan productions: the foibles of love between members of different social classes in Victorian culture.

“There’s nothing quite like the sparkling energy of Gilbert and Sullivan,” said director and conductor Robert Engelhart. “This opera is full of infectious tunes, memorable characters and side-splitting comedy.”

Engelhart also promises a few playful surprises, including some Upper Peninsula and NMU references.

H.M.S. Pinafore tells the story of a lowly able seaman named Ralph who has fallen in love with Josephine, his Captain's daughter. But Josephine has been pledged by her father to Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty. Although Josephine is in love with Ralph, she is determined to remain true to her breeding and marry the man her father has chosen.

Sir Joseph, for his part, professes to be a man of new ideals, informing the Captain that "a British sailor is any man's equal, excepting mine," and requiring him to soften his commands to the crew by adding such civilities as "if you please." But when Little Buttercup, a local bumboat woman, lets slip that all is not what it seems, Sir Joseph's liberal notions are put to the test.  

Chet Defonso, an NMU history professor, plays the role of Sir Joseph Porter.

“Chet’s academic expertise in British history has provided lots of interesting background for all involved in this production,” Engelhart said. “I believe he is going to be both historical and hysterical. He can turn on a marvelous British stuffiness that is absolutely right for this role.”

The University Choir and Madrigal Singers will serve as both on-stage chorus members and ensemble voices in the orchestra pit. Nancy Redfern, an NMU music professor, will be the accompanist.

Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 25. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for NMU students and children under 12. They are available now at all NMU ticket outlets or at the door before each performance.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director