Veteran sailor J. Ernest Green took his 23-foot Alberg out on waters near Annapolis the other day with a friend, Jim Katchko. It was a free moment before the two sail away for real Friday on Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore," opening a run of seven productions of the Young Victorian Theater at Bryn Mawr School.
Green is music director and Katchko is tenor lead Ralph Rackstraw. The entire veteran cast of leads is returning for a Young Vic reunion. This is the company's 21st season as a Baltimore summer tradition but its first as an independent company away from Gilman School's sponsorship.
Also back on board are baritones Gary Leard as the captain (and stage director), Mark McGrath as Dick Deadeye, Steven Goodman as Sir Joseph Porter, soprano Meg Genovese as Josephine, mezzo-sopranos Kathryn Arnold as Little Buttercup and Ilona Williams as Cousin Hebe and bass baritone Bill Caltrider as the bosun.
Green describes his 100-minute, semi-professional production as "light and fast and a lot of fun, somewhere between traditional Gilbert and Sullivan and the Joseph Papp 'Pirates' movie. We'll sneak in very topical references. Pinafore's a gem, their first smash hit.
"I'm not a pure Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado, but have a theory that each of their big operas is a microcosm of different opera styles -- 'Pinafore' is bel canto, Bellini, Donizetti. 'Pirates' is early Verdi. . ."
Green, who received his masters from Peabody Conservatory in 1983, is back for his seventh season. Peabody graduates make up most of his 25-piece orchestra. He has conducted in Brazil, is music director of the Annapolis Chorale and Annapolis Chamber Orchestra and teaches at St. John's College. He built the chorale from a 54-voice unit to 120 singers, with a chamber chorus of 30 and a chamber orchestra core of 24.
Brian Goodman, returning for his 14th year as general manager, said Young Vic will produce only one Gilbert and Sullivan operetta this season, but hopes to resume its two-production schedule next season. The company is seeking grants to offset the loss of Gilman's funding.
"We last did Pinafore on the Rash Field boat in 1985," Goodman said. "It's one of those shows that plays real well. It's a short, fun show with familiar songs."
The last two seasons Goodman has been running the Young Vic at Bryn Mawr's Centennial Hall at 109 W. Melrose Ave. in Roland Park instead of at Gilman. The air conditioning is an improvement but the single-toilet bathrooms can be vexing. "We'll have other buildings with bathrooms open," he promises.
Goodman's working with a new board, headed by Dr. Jesse Hellman, president; Christopher West, vice president; Katherine Mardaga, secretary; and himself, treasurer. Other members are Thomas Broadus Jr., Carol Abromaitis, Cynthia Harvey, Marylou Sigler and Dr. Henry Sabatier.
"Pinafore" is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday; July 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. A catered picnic fund-raiser is set for 7 to 8 p.m. July 13 at the school. Show tickets are $18.50 for adults, $17 for seniors and patrons, and $12 for children 12 and younger. Call 323-3077.