Pinafore! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Pinafore!, Bailiwick Repertory. There's nothing earthshaking about Mark Savage's likable, mildly campy parody of/homage to Gilbert and Sullivan's first hit, H.M.S. Pinafore. His premise is the stuff of SNL: in this modern update, all the sailors are gay and the big issue is whether drag queens will be allowed in the navy. The lyrics are packed with references to gay culture, but most are of the sort an enlightened straight audience member would get.

Savage's most inspired twist on the original--the captain's son, not his daughter, falls in love with a common sailor--keeps the show from being just an extended comedy sketch. Still, most of the lyrics about gay marriage and sex-change operations are no more daring than Second City and no wittier than Gilbert's originals.

But the show is funny. Even the worst comic performances are pretty good, and the best--like Kingsley Day's jaded Senator and Jamie Axtell's tart Captain--are a sheer delight. Even more important, under Savage's direction, everyone in the show delivers Sullivan's tunes with grace and power. So even when the jokes go a little flat, as they do from time to time, we can enjoy the simple beauty of the songs.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →