“H.M.S. Pinafore” sets sail at MNSU this fall

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Theater and Dance this week kicks off its main stage season with the musical “H.M.S Pinafore: How a Lass Loved a Sailor.”

The play is a British operetta written by Gilbert and Sullivan, poking fun at the Victorian-era sensibilities. The story follows Josephine, the captain’s daughter who falls in love with Rafe, a lowly sailor. Drawing in satirical aspects and light opera music, it includes tendencies similar to Monty Python.

While live performances are back on stage, the presence of COVID-19 still looms large. Director Heather Hamilton made sure the cast and crew were not only following the state guidelines, but University guidelines as well.

 “Since the [social distancing] mandate has been lifted, we are following the same parameters as athletics,” said Hamilton. “Everybody in the cast has to be vaccinated or take weekly tests and then we wear masks any time we are not on stage.”

Senior Jace Gray plays Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B, the admiral of the English Navy who is supposed to be wed to Josephine, completely unbeknownst that she’s head over heels for Rafe. Gray said he is excited to see the reaction of their hard work pay off in front of a live audience. After the pandemic, he’s glad to be back to performing the way theater is supposed to be.

“Last year we did a lot of shows where we performed live, but we were in masks and had a lot lower capacity audiences,” said Gray. “It is so much better to know that there will be more people out there and to not have a piece of cloth on my face which is great for safety, but bad for singing.”

Being able to have live shows again is something not just the cast has been yearning for, but also the crew. Director Nick Wayne is excited for everyone to come together to share stories with the public again.

“I know for the cast, musicians and all the artistic folk involved, you have to get [those feelings] out,” said Wayne. “It’s been very edifying and fulfilling to do this.”

With plenty of laughs, detailed costumes and a story of star-crossed lovers, “H.M.S Pinafore” is sure to give audiences a good time. Sophomore Sydney Belonge, who plays Josephine, said she hopes audiences have fun with the magic of live voices and music.

“It’s a fun show that’s exciting and not too hard to digest,” said Belonge. “I want people to have their imagination run wild.”

 “H.M.S. Pinafore” runs in the Ted Paul Theatre Sept. 23-25 and again Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 for MNSU students and $24 for the general public.

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