Pitt sets sail
Marcus Clem | copy editor
The song of the sailor who loved a lady above his station rang through Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 15 and Feb. 17.
Laughter inspired by comedy that is more than a century old accompanied that music as Pittsburg State University’s ensemble of singers and instrumentalists put on their show of the year.
“HMS Pinafore” is the two-act first great blockbuster of British musical icons W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, rendered to remarkable life by the Music Department’s Opera Workshop, taught by Patrick Howle, instructor of music.
With the orchestral support of the Southeast Kansas Symphony Orchestra, cast members folded seamlessly into the lives of a proud, but rather silly bunch of the Victorian-era Royal Navy. The leaders of the cast have prepared for this performance for almost a year.
“This is just a passion of mine,” said Madison Youngberg, senior in music education and performance. “I love getting up on stage and sharing my passion with other people.”
Youngberg played Josephine for the first show on Feb. 15. Alyssa Marsh, junior in fashion merchandising and opera, took over for the Feb. 17 show. This was to account for the high number of qualified soloist auditions, Youngberg said.
“This requires a vast amount of chorus singers and not as many lead singers as usual,” she said.
The story is a traditional forbidden love arrangement set in deep societal and political satire with a persistently light heart.
Josephine is daughter to Capt. Corcoran, played by Joshua Crown, of the eponymous Royal Navy ship, who is sought by Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, the self-described “ruler of the Queen’s Navy.”
However, Josephine has already secretly given her heart to Ralph Rackstraw, a common seaman, in violation of social norms.
Worse, when the arrogant and foolish Sir Joseph comes aboard, accompanied by a dozen of his loyal “sisters, cousins, and aunts,” Josephine discovers that she cannot even acknowledge her love to Rackstraw.
Aaron Hayse, junior in music who played Sir Joseph, had the most physical responsibility on stage, with multiple tumbles, dances and mannerisms to master for his character.
“When I’m on stage, I’m just kind of a different person,” he said. “I become a different character and their emotions are what I think about. I realize that I’m in a performance of some sort, but my mind gets turned off for a moment and I just fold into the character.”
Jayson Canton, senior in vocal performance, played Rackstraw, who by the end of the show sees his station in life improve through a series of absurd events that mock the importance placed on upper-class birth in Victorian society.
“The message behind this performance is ‘love never dies,’” he said. “I feel like Ralph pursued something he really wanted and loved. In the end, everything, as it is most of the time, worked out.”
Dalton Williams, senior in musical performance, reflected on his connection to the music and his role as a leader in the SEK Symphony Orchestra.
“This is an experience we all get to share, we are all on stage no matter what the venue is,” he said. “Being able to share that with each other, it is something we can all relate to. We all understand the experience and rigor of practice and the challenges that we have to meet.”
Youngberg, Hayse, Williams and Canton, along with all of their peers, work “hours and days,” as Youngberg put it, to obtain perfection on the stage. Williams says that there’s still some time to unwind, and the familial community of the class and the Music Department as a whole helps.
“There’s a bit of a party scene that happens at McCray, whether it is at home or going out,” he said. “People treat it recreationally and get away from the work aspect of music so it is still a joy.”
None of this would be possible