‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ Set As First In-Person Performance of 2021 at WT

Chip Chandler Jan 27, 2021
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‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ Set As First In-Person Performance of 2021 at WT

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — The West Texas A&M University Opera Workshop will set sail in February with a new production of a rollicking operetta that’s the jolly grandfather of modern musical theater.

Cast and crew will stage W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall on WT’s Canyon campus. (UPDATE: An additional performance has been added at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5.)

As a COVID-19 precaution, all performers will be masked, and audiences will be limited to 70 per performance. Masks and social distancing will be required.

Tickets are $10 or free for WT students, faculty and staff with their Buff Gold Card. Call 806-651-2840 for reservations.

“Pinafore,” the fourth collaboration between the iconic British duo, was an international sensation after it opened in 1878.

“This really is the groundwork for what Rodgers and Hammerstein ended up doing,” said Sarah Beckham-Turner, assistant professor of music and director of the production. “It is less grand and more relatable than earlier operas, and it has catchy music that you will end up humming.”

“Story elements that switch between high and low comedy, love triangles that need to be sorted out, character types — musical theater owes a lot to ‘Pinafore’,” said Bradley Behrmann, who stars as Captain Corcoran and is WT’s assistant professor of musical theatre.

Set aboard a Royal Navy ship, the breezy “Pinafore” finds the captain’s daughter Josephine (Eleisha Miller) in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw (Mitchell Hernandez), though her father wishes to marry her off to an older, more influential suitor, Sir Joseph Porter (Dr. Robert Hansen). Comedic complications ensue.

“Gilbert & Sullivan works are just so much fun,” said Hansen, Regents professor of music and director of the School of Music. “They are always telling some outrageous story.”

Performing alongside instructors like Hansen and Behrmann is a treat, said Hernandez, a Canyon native.

“You get a different perspective on them,” he said. “This is a great learning experience.”

Beckham-Turner’s opera students also are getting valuable exposure to a different style of performing, she said.

“They get to stretch their acting muscles and, especially, their dancing muscles — things that we don’t really use that often in opera,” Beckham-Turner said.

This is the first operatic or theatrical performance in front of an audience since lockdowns began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020.

“I am very excited and a little nervous,” Beckham-Turner said. “I promised our students that we would do this show in some capacity, and the fact that we will have an in-person audience, however reduced, is a huge blessing.”

All production members are required to take weekly COVID-19 tests. If anyone tests positive, they are required to attend rehearsals via Zoom. Everyone involved is masked constantly, and Beckham-Turner said she has staged the production to limit most up-close personal interactions. The performers will use The Singer’s Mask, a face covering designed by Broadway professionals.

Student cast members and their hometowns include:

Canyon: Hernandez, Conner Nall (Dick Deadeye), Mariana Pacheco (chorus)

Amarillo: Codi Hittson (Cousin Hebe)

San Antonio: Miller, Bridgette McFall (chorus)

Los Angeles: Chloe Ridolfo (Little Buttercup)

Midland: Jaden Brisco (Boatswain)

Corpus Christi: Stephen Richardson (Carpenter’s Mate)

Harrisburg, Penn.: Shannon Burr (chorus)

Hurst: Mira Caliman (chorus)

Lubbock: Signe Elder (chorus)

Azle: Brianna Moen (chorus)

Plano: Audrey Reidling (chorus)

San Angelo: Analisa Rios (chorus)

McKinney: Darien Del Cueto (chorus)

Friona: Eduardo Guadarrama (chorus)

Flower Mound: Zachary Johnston (chorus)

Wolfforth: Enrique Lujan (chorus)

Odessa: Savannah Poor (chorus) 

A commitment to the arts is a key component of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.