Lyric theater sets sail with “H.M.S. Pinafore”

Photo by Marcy Thornsberry

The lyric theater students are taking to the high seas of laughter for their latest spring production.

Set in the 1800s, “H.M.S. Pinafore” is a classic love story about Josephine (played by junior Lacey Kriston and sophomore Gina Ceragioli), the daughter of a captain, destined to be married to a much older Sir Joseph Porter (played by junior Rafael Porto).

The catch?

Josephine falls in love with Ralph, a lowly sailor, played by both senior Pete Weldy and junior Myles Pinder, who must prove he is worthy of the captain’s daughter.

While the show is technically an opera, Weldy said that it feels more like a musical.

Thomas Studebaker, the producer of the show and an assistant professor of voice in the Jordan College of Fine Arts, said the students have put together a “really, really funny” production.

“It’s a silly show,” Weldy said.  “It’s not so heavy.”

Studebaker professionally sang for many years, and this production is his first time in front of the curtain.

“I have never taught anything like the opera program, “ Studebaker said.  “I’m really enjoying it very much.”

Porto said the show is a great way to dive into the world of operas and classical music for a number of reasons.

“The subject matter is funny, it’s in English, and it’s catchy music,” Porto said. “You don’t have to be classically trained or oriented to enjoy it.”

A sense of humor and fun is all that is needed to appreciate this opera. Cody Nedina, the staging director, said the group has plenty of that to go around.

“They’re talented kids,” Nedina said. “They are very supportive of each other. You don’t always see that. They’re cookin’.”

Nedina said that he has done a lot of operas, but this show is a completely different experience because of the actors’ abilities.

“For a small school,” Nedina said,  “there are some really, really talented people.”

Porto said Butler’s small size gives students more opportunities to perform and hone their skills.

One skill the actors had to master for the show was the art of mimicking a British accent.

“Mine’s not so good,” Weldy said.  “It’s a lot of hours sounding crazy, going over lines in your room alone.”

Studebaker said the best part for him was seeing the production come together.

“It’s been great seeing how it’s all fallen into place,” Studebaker said, “Seeing students light up for the first time.”

Porto said that, because of people like Studebaker and Nedina, Butler Lyric Theatre has evolved and become even better than before.

“It’s a real hands-on class,” Porto said. “Your final is the performance.  “Either you make it or you break it.”

The show will be performed April 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and April 15 at 3 p.m. at Shortridge High School. Tickets are $5 for students.

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