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Zany 'H.M.S. Pinafore's' destination is love in Naperville
By Sara Hooker | Daily Herald Staff

Bill Nelson plays Sir Joseph in North Central College's Summer Musical Theatre production "H.M.S. Pinafore."

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Jennifer Reusz plays Josephine, a young lady from the upper class who is taken with a sailor on her father's ship in Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore."

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Matthias Austin, as Ralph, has the chance to act with both his parents for the first time in the summer theater production of "H.M.S. Pinafore."

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

In a tale of 1800s love across class lines, Jennifer Reusz portrays the captain's daughter Josephine, smitten with the lowly sailor Ralph, played by Matthias Austin.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

North Central College's Summer Musical Theatre is staging a community production of Gilbert and Sullivan's comedic opera "H.M.S. Pinafore."

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Stan Austin, who plays Corcoran, shares the stage with his son, Matthias, in "H.M.S. Pinafore" this weekend at North Central College.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 7/29/2010 12:30 AM

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If you go

What: "H.M.S. Pinafore"

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, July 29 to 31; 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1

Where: Madden Theatre in the Wentz Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville

Cost: $15 adults, $10 students and seniors

Info: (630) 637-7469 or northcentralcollege.edu/show

Matt Boresi and Jeordano "Pete" Martinez - directors of the upcoming musical production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" - knew each other way back when Cousin Hebe wasn't a speaking part.

Back when Boresi was a freshman at North Central College in 1993, hoping for a part in the very production he now leads as director.

Back when Martinez, as director, selected Boresi to play the captain - the first of many lead roles Boresi would play throughout his tenure at the school.

Now the teacher and student unite as equals to lead the college's upcoming production as part of the Summer Musical Theatre program.

"H.M.S. Pinafore" opens today and runs through Sunday, Aug. 1, in the college's Madden Theatre, located in the Wentz Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

"All teachers say this: You get to see a little bit of yourself in your former students, so it's fun for me for (Boresi) to be in charge," said Martinez, a music professor at North Central as well as the show's music director.

They've planned a couple new twists to W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's comedic opera set in the 1840s on a British naval vessel.

Boresi and Martinez lead a cast of 25 to tell the love story between people of different social classes, which originally premiered in the late 19th century and went on to make popular such tunes as "We Sail the Ocean Blue," "I'm Called Little Buttercup" and "Never Mind the Why and Wherefore."

It's a story about a sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, who falls in love with the captain's daughter Josephine, who is above him socially.

In true British humor, through zany twists and turns, Ralph discovers he was really born to a higher class and that he and Josephine can be together.

"People who have never seen a Gilbert and Sullivan show will be surprised at how fun the productions are," Martinez said. "I'm hoping that will be everyone's response. I'm pretty sure it will be."

One change to what is otherwise described as a classic version of the "H.M.S. Pinafore" is the addition of a speaking role for Cousin Hebe, a woman whose pursuit of the admiral of the British navy amounts to comedy.

"For people who know and love the show, they're going to be surprised when they see Hebe's part," Martinez said. "It's a lot more substantial than the productions they've seen."

The original dialogue was cut because the actor playing that role couldn't handle it.

Boresi and Martinez found that original dialogue, as well as an aria.

"The character comes out of no place and goes no place in the original version," Boresi said. "Putting the dialogue back in really creates an arc that makes what we previously knew about her make a lot more sense."

Summer community theater shows allow for families to perform together such as Wheaton couple Jean and Stan Austin and their son, Matthias, a recent graduate of Huntington University.

Performing together is a rare and treasured experience for the family, said Jean, who plays Cousin Hebe. The last time the three performed together, Matthias was in utero. Now, he's heading off to graduate school in London in the fall.

"He's been doing a lot of theater recently, you would think that he would (coach us and) say 'Oh, Mom, you should do this,'" Austin said. "He's really good at encouraging and giving advice respectfully as an actor to both myself and his dad."

It's one of the wonders of community theater - allowing families to share time together doing something they love.

Austin said she hopes others see the show and decide they want to participate in future productions.

"If this is the kind of thing that they wanted to do at some time, why don't they just audition and do it?" Austin said. "It's fun to watch, but it's even more fun to audition and be in."

Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

For information, visit northcentralcollege.edu/show or call the box office at (630) 637-7469.