To boldly go where no musical has gone before

A Bay Area theater company is about to boldly go where no musical has gone before: performing Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera HMS Pinafore on the bridge of the Federation Starship USS Enterprise.

Jan Heiman, co-director of the production being staged by the Stanford Savoyards, a student-run theatre company open to the public for cast and crew, said of the production:

“We’ve wanted to do something like this for years. We started out making jokes about it, but then realized that some of the characters and themes in HMS Pinafore mirrored those in Star Trek.”

The production will be faithful to the 1878 light opera about the love between a captain’s daughter and a lower-class sailor aboard a 19th century British sailing vessel or warship, but several clever liberties have been taken with the lyrics, the costumes and the set.

For instance, instead of referring to a Prussian or a Russian in one of the songs, the nationalities have been altered to the Star-Trek races of Vulcan and Romulan.

Characters – mainly wearing Starfleet uniforms — also appear with pointed ears, green makeup and ridged foreheads to represent aliens from the 23rd century.  The set itself will resemble the bridge or command center of the fictional USS Enterprise.

Karin Raab, publicity assistant for the theatre company said that audience members should get a “real eyeful” from this unique production:

“We tried to make it as reminiscent of the original TV series as possible.”

Star Trek characters such as Admiral James T. Kirk, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Data and Counselor Troi will appear as their original Opera Comique counterparts Sir Joseph Porter, Captain Corcoran, the Boatswain’s Mate and Josephine, respectively.

Raab added:

“Some of the actors in the opera have appeared in other productions of Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, so they have a good feel for the original material. We’re hoping that this version will become a cult classic with both young and old audiences.”

The Star Trek-inspired production will play on January 25-27 and February 1 and 2 at the Dinkelspiel Auditorium on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto.  For more information, visit www.stanford.edu/group/savoyards.

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