It is 1878. Britannia rules the waves and the pride of her fleet, HMS Pinafore, rides at anchor in Portsmouth. Her gallant crew, their beloved Captain (who is “hardly ever” sick at sea) and little Buttercup, the roundest, reddest beauty in Spithead, greet a new day and prepare for the arrival of the First Lord of the Admiralty and his entourage of sisters, cousins and aunts.
HMS Pinafore is a lively, happy show, full of toe-tapping melodies and familiar songs. It pokes glorious fun at the British class system: a lowly sailor dares to fall in love with the Captain’s daughter, who is also the object of the First Lord’s affections.
Does love level all ranks? The show’s surprise ending answers that question decisively.
HMS Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s first great hit and it is easy to see why. It is musically charming, wickedly witty and just great fun from beginning to end.