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HMS Pinafore


  • July 31 August 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16
    Benefit dates 08/06, 08/13
  • Music and Lyrics by William S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan


While the H.M.S Pinafore is anchored at Portsmouth, Little Buttercup, a bumboat woman, tries to sell her goods to the sailors. It is soon revealed that one of the sailors, Ralph Rackstraw, is hopelessly in love with the Captain's daughter, Josephine. She however, is betrothed to the wealthy Sir Joseph Porter. Nevertheless, Josephine expresses her love for Ralph and wants to elope-scandalous due to their class differences. Meanwhile, Buttercup has fallen in love with the Captain, but he cannot return her love because of their difference in status. In the end, it is revealed that the Captain and Ralph had accidentally been exchanged at birth. Thus, the Captain can now marry Buttercup and Ralph can marry Josephine. First performed at the Opera Comique, London, on the 25th May 1878

The quarterdeck of HMS Pinafore.

Little Buttercup, a buxom bumboat woman, attempts to sell her wares to the crew. Among the ship's hands is a handsome sailor called Ralph Rackstraw who seems to cause great concernation to Little Buttercup.

The ship's Captain, Corcoran, arrives and when alone with Buttercup he expresses his sadness that his daughter, Josephine, appears far less than enthusiastic over her impending marriage to Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Josephine's heart is in fact given to a humble sailor on board her father's own ship.

Sir Joseph enters accompanied by the female chorus of Sisters, Cousins and Aunts. Captain Corcoran and Sir Joseph discuss the respect that must always be given to the crew. Any request made by the Captain must be accompanied by an "if you please".

Alone with Josephine, Ralph declares his love to her. However Josephine is true to the dictates of class distinction and rejects his love although her true feelings are not voiced except in asides to the audience.

The finale to Act One opens with Ralph announcing that the only thing left is to blow his head off. But before the fatal shot is fired, Josephine stops him declaring that she does in fact love him. They plan to steal ashore that night to be married.

In Act Two we find Sir Joseph becoming more and more irritated at Josephine's lack of response to his offer of his hand in marriage. Captain Corcoran points out that probably his exalted rank has dazzled her and he must be assured that love, in fact, levels all ranks.

The unscrupulous sailor, Dick Deadeye (the villain of the Opera) reveals to the Captain of the plan for the elopement of Ralph and Josephine that night. Corcoran stops the escape and Ralph declares his love for Josephine. All confusion reigns only resolved when Little Buttercup explains that when she was a nurse a many years ago she mixed two babies up. One upper class, the other lower class.

"In time each little waif
Forsook his foster-mother,
The well-born babe was Ralph -
Your Captain was the other!"

Ralph appears dressed as a Captain and Corcoran as an ordinary seaman.

Ralph embraces Josephine, Corcoran turns to Buttercup and Sir Joseph settles for first cousin, Hebe.


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