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From The Birmingham Daily Post, 12 November 1879

PRINCE OF WALES THEATRE

That popular craft "H.M.S. Pinafore" cast anchor here for a short stay on Monday, and was welcomed into port by a goodly and appreciative company. Since her last visit there have been some important alterations in the equipage, but in most cases these are changes for the better, and on the whole the "Pinafore" has never been better manned or womaned either than on the present occasion. There is no need to expatiate anew upon the musical and literary merits of a production which has long been familiar as a household word wherever the English tongue is spoken. Opinions doubtless differ as to the relative merits of this and the other joint-stock productions of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan, but no one will venture to deny that it is one of the most original, witty, and amusing compositions to which the spirit burlesque has given birth, and that the music, for once, is as humorous and original as the dialogue.

The performance was, on the whole, a very smooth and effective one, though some of the concerted pieces, more especially in the second act, would have been the better for an additional rehearsal. Miss Petrelli is both vocally and histrionically an improvement upon her predecessor in the part of Josephine, though some of the music is a little trying for her voice. The lady possesses intelligence, humour, and a graceful presence, and her acting is free from the affectation and self-consciousness which so often disfigure the assumption. Miss Stavart, as Little Buttercup, the bumboat woman, is piquant and spirited, and sings with good voice and expression. Miss Larue, [sic] as the disdainful Hebe who consoles the First Lord of the Admiralty for his disappointment, makes much of a small part, without being unduly obtrusive. The Right Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., in the hands of Mr. Meade is a very diverting assumption, but the gentleman's vocal qualifications for the part are of a somewhat limited order. Mr. Temple, as the unhappy Captain Corcoran, who was changed "in childhood's happy hour," and who "hardly ever" addresses words to his crew beginning with a big big D, is gentlemanly and subdued in the presence of his superior. The Ralph Rackstraw of Mr. Sidney is a creditable assumption, more especially as regards the vocalization; and the Dick Deadeye of Mr. Billington is dismally grotesque, as it should be. The chorus of sailors, and "sisters, cousins, and aunts,” are for the most part excellently given. Encores were numerous, and the applause and laughter were almost incessant. To recount the "hits" would be simply to name the most popular numbers in the work, not excepting, of course, the pleasant autobiographical ditties of the Captain, "the ruler of the Queen's Navee," and Little Buttercup, the marriage bells trio, the scena for Josephine, and the finale of the first act. The piece is, as usual, capitally put on the stage, both as to dresses and scenery, and the band is efficient.


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