Lamplighters benefits from Cañada students’ talents

“… Those who believed in the power of Mr Gilbert to tickle the fancy … were more than satisfied, and those who appreciate Mr Arthur Sullivan’s inexhaustible gift of melody were equally gratified; while that large class of playgoers who are pleased with brilliant dresses and charming stage effects declared themselves delighted.” So went the original review of Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, circa 1878. In other words, it was a hit!

A poster for the original production of H.M.S. pinafore in 1879.

One hundred forty years later, the show is still delighting audiences. Lamplighters Music Theatre of San Francisco has kept Gilbert and Sullivan’s work alive and well for decades now. Over time the costumes are replaced and, in the case of this year’s H.M.S. Pinafore production, some of the sailors’ uniforms were 35 years old. Our students stepped in this past spring to take the costumes from sea-weary to sea-worthy. Now the entire crew is decked out in fresh uniforms!

We had the pleasure of attending one of the recent shows at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and saw the students’ work in action. What a voyage it was!

With Judy Jackson at the helm, the students knew they wouldn’t founder.

“We had to do a lot of research before the class,” student Johanna Jay shared during the show’s intermission. “We all came to the first class with packets [of information] to make sure the costumes were historically accurate.”

Johanna Jay (R) grades (sizes) patterns for the show’s costumes only weeks after completing her first pattern-grading class! Barbara Kossy (L) looks on.
Billy Lash, the sole male student in the class, served as ever-patient model. Here he is showing off the entire ensemble—a Victorian British sailor, stem to stern!
The show involves lots of dancing and other movement. As a result, one of the requirements for the sailors’ uniforms was that they be easy to move in. Here one of the sailors demonstrates his best jig for a couple of young fans.
One of the bigger challenges (pun intended) was to make a costume for the unusually tall actor playing Capt. Corcoran.

(Spoiler alert!) The characters Ralph and Captain Corcoran change places at the end of the show, which means their costumes had to be made twice—in very different sizes. And since Ralph was played by two actors, a third set was required, for a total of six costumes, if our count is correct.

Sarah Rodriguez-Soto (L) and Nika Cassaro (R) pose with one of the actors. Sylvia Montoya (not pictured) was also instrumental in the costume re-fresh project.

Sarah Rodriguez-Soto (L) continued to work on the show after the class and became paid wardrobe staff during the run of the show. Nika Cassaro (R), also a Cañada student, was hired to be the costumer for the show. Judy describes the job as “a huge responsibility” and says “Nika has never done this job before but she did an amazing job, learning on the fly.”

The entire crew of the H.M.S. Cañada.

Judy raised over $10,000 for Lamplighters and the Fund the Fabric campaign, in large part because of the work of our students. “People were very impressed,” she brags.

You can still catch H.M.S. Pinafore this weekend and next at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. More information and tickets available here.