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‘H.M.S. Pinafore’
Wildwood Park
Sept. 29

Wildwood kicked off its 2006-07 Opera Season last Friday with Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore.” The show overcame a slow start to finish on top with its theme of love levels all men.

It was surprising to see the house not quite full, as “Pinafore” is almost always an audience favorite. Director Anne Chotard conducted the band, with former conductor Stratsimir Pavlov accompanying on piano.

I have always been somewhat disappointed in the acoustics of Wildwood’s Lucy Lockett Cabe Theatre. The stage is three-sided, and whenever a singer turns his or her back on the audience, which they must at some point, you can barely make out what is being sung. The singers did their best, however, to project their voices — perhaps a bit too much, as various male voices stuck out.

After a somewhat lackluster first act, the second act loosened up the audience. Whether it was the wine during intermission or people getting a chance to read their program notes and find that the show was, indeed, a comedy, the laughs came a lot easier the second half. The antics of Dick Deadeye (Shawn Charton), Captain Corcoran (Andrew Buck), and the fortune-telling Little Buttercup (Martha Antolik) kept the audience pleasantly entertained. At times, the British accents were a bit hard to understand (or maybe that was just me being accustomed to a Southern drawl). For the most part, though, the audience could hear the witty banter that is the hallmark of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Robert Holden was unforgettable as Sir Joseph, and Miss Buttercup’s “plump and pleasing” ways definitely caught everyone’s eye. Especially memorable was “Sad Is the Hour,” sung by Kira Keating playing Josephine. George Dyer as Ralph Rackstraw sang with a wonderful tenor voice.

Wildwood will take “H.M.S. Pinafore” to Hot Springs Village Oct. 11-14. Call 821-7275 for tickets or more information.

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