It’s always fun to see an actor steal a production, as Thomas Campbell does in the opening scene to Hayes Theatre’s giddy and hilarious new production of H.M.S. Pinafore. This is one of the most delightful and popular of Gilbert and Sullivan’s light operas; it’s a great moment when an audience collectively thinks, You know, I didn’t know until right now that what I’ve always needed to see is I’m Called Little Buttercup sung by a hefty bald guy.
In falsetto. In pink sunglasses.
That might make it seem like this is a joke musical. It’s not. This production—a killer vision from director Kate Gaul—is an exuberantly gender-bending, stripped-down but highly musical reimagining of this classic tale. (Seafarers, lovers from different classes, family secrets, etc. etc.) The accompaniment is provided by two creative multi-instrumentalists, with incidental touches (acoustic guitar, harmonica) supplied by various members of the well-voiced cast.
And as for the staging—well, it’s at once traditional but insane; fetching sailor outfits a lot of the time, but there is plenty of room in Gaul’s imaginings for much of the second act to be staged as a drag floor show. The only bad news is for Campbell, whose theft of the production lasts not even through the first act, when it is stolen right back by Rory O’Keefe, playing Sir Joseph, when he … Well, you’re going to have to go see for yourself.
Until Dec. 14. Hayes Theatre – 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point. $55-75. Tickets & Info: www.hayestheatre.com.au
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