Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore" is comfortably berthed at IU's Musical Arts Center in a production that had me happily smiling for most of the brief two hours Saturday night.
The show was crisply conducted by guest Robert Wood. Vincent Liotta's clever staging was dramatically economical, but with plenty of business for chorus and principals. Michael Schwandt's lighting subtly focused the audience's attention and even in a nicely old-fashioned move darkened the stage and spotlighted the principals for their revealing asides. David Higgin's quarter deck and harbor set drew applause as the curtain opened and looked even more interesting when lighted for the night scenes of the second act. Costumes ranged from the crisply simply sailors outfits to the more elaborate decoration of the captain and the Lord of the Admiralty's uniforms, and on to the positively baroque range of colors, fabrics and styles of the Lord's cousins and aunts.
Singing throughout "H.M.S. Pinafore"was a nice balance of diction and lyric line. There's no way that a single line of supertitle could do justice to the complexity of Gilbert's lyrics, so the Opera Theatre dispensed with them and depended with general success on the singers' getting the words across. Saturday night's cast was a spirited group that clearly relished the show. Following the audience's generous applause, the curtain came down and we could hear them laughing and cheering themselves behind the curtain.
The IU Opera Theatre's delightful production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" plays this Friday and Saturday at eight in the Musical Arts Center.
You can hear an interview with conductor Robert Wood on our on the Arts Interviews page .