nytheatre.com review by Robert Kent
If anyone asks, tell them Pinafore!
August 15, 2003
Adapted and directed by Mark Savage, this wildly entertaining and fiercely original musical looks at Gilbert and Sullivan's classic H.M.S. Pinafore with a sharply focused queer eye.
Docked off Palm Springs, California, this Pinafore is more Love Boat than war vessel. "Below the deck, it's a barrelhouse of sex," warns—or titillates—Captain Corkinit (keenly portrayed by Michael Gregory), who runs a tight ship manned by sexy sailors dressed in Mia Gyzander's midriff-bearing tanks and stylish short shorts. Sweat glistens off seamen Jason Boegh, Brian Givens, Brad Murphy and the charismatic Christopher Andrew Hall, as they happily submit to the bump and grind of daily chores.
Gilbert and Sullivan's light opera is now lighter than ever. In fact, it is a topsy-turvy treat. Honoring a tradition set by Charles Ludlum, Charles Busch and others, Savage cleverly twists his source material. The gifted writer and lyricist (who co-authored Naked Boys Singing!) creatively combines musical theatre, opera, burlesque, political satire, and camp. He also includes topical, hilarious references to Kevin Spacey, Queen Latifah, Rupert Everett—and Republicans—among others.
Skillfully staged by Savage and whimsically choreographed by Ken Roht, this highly amusing Pinafore! revolves around the ship's sole straight crew member, Dick Dockstrap (Hall), and his love for Josephine—who is really the Captain's transvestite son, Joseph.
Unbeknownst to Dick, Joseph/Josephine (sensationally played by countertenor R. Christofer Sands) is betrothed to trannie-chaser Senator Barney Crank (David Gillam Fuller). To complicate the situation further, the Pinafore is being seized by a trio of drag queens (Chadwick T. Adams, Scott Scarboro and Antonio Martinez). The sailors are planning a mutiny. And, Captain Corkinit has unresolved "heterosexual" feelings for the buxom Bitter Butterball (the deliciously talented Debra Lane), a mysterious peddler whose wares include crystal meth and piercing jewelry.
"This is so confusing!" screams Harry Heavyseat (Wilson Raiser), a surly leather-clad sailor who foils Josephine and Dick's plans to elope. Of course, by the finale, everything is, um, straightened out.
Let's hope Pinafore! stays docked in New York for a long, long time.