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Classic opera brings comedy to east London for Valentine’s Day

Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera is perfect for Valentine's Day Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera is perfect for Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 15, 2014
1:00 PM

One of the best loved operas of all time is getting a dramatic makeover this Valentine’s Day.

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HMS PinaforeHMS Pinafore

Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore starts a run at the Hackney Empire on Friday and, breaking from tradition, it will feature a completely male cast.

Award-winning director Sasha Regan wanted to approach the play from a totally different angle.

She said: “You get a lot of very traditional performances of HMS Pinafore.

“With this one we are really true to the score. We wanted to bring it to life so that a new audience can enjoy Gilbert and Sullivan.”

According to Regan, using an all-male cast not only added to the comedy, but was also a testament to the talent of the actors who play convincing female roles.

“We are pushing them really hard vocally and physically; they are singing in falsettos,” she added.

The story takes place aboard HMS Pinafore and follows the captain’s daughter, Josephine, who is in love with a lower class sailor.

Exploring themes of equality and patriotism, the plot is also imbued with light-hearted comedy which has seen the opera rise to international fame.

Choreographer Lizzi Gee said: “A lot of the audience is shocked. Some of them don’t pay much attention and then they realise it’s an all-male performance.

“It is a talent. You don’t expect that a man can deliver a female role just as well, and when they all sing you come away not really believing what you have heard.

“It is like a wall of sound – pure opera.”

Regan says the play is perfect for Valentine’s Day and addresses themes that are relevant today. “It‘s so romantic,” she adds. “Even if you haven’t got anyone to go with, you should come along. It is absolutely feelgood for all ages.”

HMS Pinafore runs until February 23 and tickets cost between £10 and £32. Call 020 8985 2424 to book seats.

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