Director Lesley McVey didn’t use to like the comic operas created by Gilbert and Sullivan because she thought they were rather silly and frivolous and lacking in real meaning—but that’s changed.
“I was always much more interested in doing meaty, meaningful sorts of plays,” she said, “and then I thought, gosh this music is fun, and goodness these people look like they’re having a good time, and just the lightheartedness of the plot and the music I thought it would be nice to do that.”
McVey is directing Echo Players production of H.M.S. Pinafore, a romantic musical comedy at the Village Theatre from Feb. 14 to March. 3.
McVey hails from England and lived in Prince George for 30 years, before moving to the area. She’s been involved in theatre for 40 years and has directed a couple of shows for Echo Players including Waiting for the Parade. Her most ambitious work directing in Prince George was Macbeth, with a cast of around 40, but H.M.S. Pinafore is a big show as well, she said, with 23 cast members and a long list of back stage helpers.
McVey said it was a bit of a challenge to find 12 men to play the sailors in H.M.S. Pinafore, as they all had to have good singing voices, but they succeeded. She said she has been incredibly lucky finding excellent lead singers and a wonderful chorus, but stressed the play would not go on without the incredible help of vocal director Hilary Whelton and choreographer Donna Wilkins.
The story is a satire of the British class system and became an international sensation after it debuted in 1878. Set aboard a British naval ship anchored at Portsmouth, the musical involves the captain’s daughter falling for a lower-class sailor, while her father wants her to marry the First Lord of the Admiralty. McVey said the musical also satirizes the position of the latter character, as he had never actually been to sea and instead conducted his work from an office.
H.M.S. Pinafore is filled with catchy tunes, elaborate costumes and fanciful hats. And along with the lighthearted subject matter, theatre-goers will also enjoy an interesting twist of events.
Tickets for the play are $21, $18 for seniors and $10 for students. Stop by the box office in Qualicum Beach during office hours at 110 West 2nd Ave, or call 250-752-3522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.echoplayers.ca for more information.