Original Australian (authorized) Cast
Saturday, November 15th, 1879

Sir Joseph Porter

Mr. J.C. Williamson

Captain Corcoran

Mr. J.A. South

Ralph Rackstraw

Mr. Vernon Reid

Dick Deadeye

Mr. Tom Rainford

Bill Bobstay

A. St. Clair


Miss Maggie Moore

Little Buttercup

Miss Marie St. Clair

Cousin Hebe

Miss Constance Deorwyn


The Theatre Royal was crowded to an uncomfortable excess on Saturday night, when the only authorised representation of "H.M.S. Pinafore" was announced for performance. The extensive preparations had been duly made known in our advertising columns, the engagement of several artists was evidence that special attention was being given to the musical portion, and that the clever result of Messes. Gilbert and Sullivan's satire and musical skill should be submitted with appropriate completeness.

It is probable that by far the larger portion of the immense audience had seen the "Pinafore" as presented by Messes. Kelly, Leon, & c., and from that had formed certain opinions as to the purpose of the work: and it is also probable that those who went with ideas so formed, found their preconceived notions entirely wrong. The "Pinafore", as interpreted by Mr. Williamson, and produced under his careful supervision, is quite another thing from the boisterous business of the former version; he looks upon it, and rightly so in our judgment, as a grand satire, in which, despite the absurd language employed to give them utterance, some valuable lessons are taught; he remembers that one of the most talented composers of the present day has not deemed the story unworthy of the careful and attractive setting setting which his genius and knowledge could give it; and, although "Pinafore" is a satire abounding in fun, he gives his best efforts to elaborate the fun as it is embodied in the story as the authors intend it, and surrounds the representation with all proper dignity.

The presence of Signor Giorza, as conductor; of Signor Ortori, and Herr Hegrat, with their violins, and of other well-known capable players, gave an air of "opera" to the orchestra; the impression deepened as their work progressed, and from beginning to end the rendering of the instrumental part was as good as the music played.

The rising curtain displayed the deck of the Pinafore, capitally painted and arranged, while the harbour, with Portsmouth and the shipping in the background, made a scene of which Mr. Wilson may well be proud. The applause was simultaneous all over the house. The crew had all the appearance of real sailors on board a man-of-war, they sang with vigor and precision, and with vocal skill too. Scarely was the opening chorus finished when Buttercup (Miss St. Clair) entered. We believe it was this lady's first appearance as an actress; as such it was highly commendable. This lady has a rich speaking voice, and after the first few phrases told with excellent effect, she sang the music fairly well, and when the novelty of the business is a little worn off she will do very well - there was an excess of mannerism occasionally visible, perhaps from over anxiety.

The boatswain, Bill Bobstay (Mr. St Clair) was the next of the principal characters who appeared; he too was new to the stage, but he bore himself with creditably and has a good voice. The short recitative brought Ralph Rackstraw (Mr. Vernon Reid) the lowly suitor, prominent; we have often commended this singer's conscientious work. He does not pretend to be an accomplished musician, and his opportunities of hearing good singers have been limited, but his voice is sweet, clear, and of very good compass; his vocal part was excellent, and the earnestness which he threw into his acting was quite in keeping with the authorised reading of the character, his only fault was the rather hurried delivery of the dialogue, which he can easily remedy. Nos. 3 and 4 were pleasurable in a truly musical sense, the choral phrases were promptly taken up and effectively sung. The tenor melody in each number is pleasing. Dick Deadeye (Mr. T.H. Rainford), had been provided with a sufficiently miserable stage-face, and looked the realization of misery; what fell to his lot vocally was well sung, and in the concerted music his voice was valuable. Captain Corcoran (Mr. J.A. South) had a strong inclination to be comic at times, he was in good voice, and the opening solo, following his salutation to his crew, was so warmly received that a repetition was demanded. "Hardly Ever" each time it was repeated brought laughter from all sides of the house.

The representation by Miss Maggie Moore of a character so entirely opposed to the style in which she had charmed all classes, was looked for with much interest, the first glimpse of Josephine decided the question of appearance; the Captain's daughter was faultlessly dressed, her lament was touchingly sung, the deportment betrayed real suffering, and Josephine in the conversation with her father artistically conveyed the reality of the struggle between love and duty.

The retirement of Josephine, the chorus of invisible singers, the gradual entrance of the crew, the captain's ascent to the bridge to watch for the arrival of the Admiral, the infinitesimal midshipmite who followed, telescope in hand, were all gone through with a befitting earnest gravity; the yards were promptly manned by real sailors, and there was a business look in the whole thing which was applauded on all sides. The tribe of female relations was no delusion.

Miss Constance Deorwyn was a most fascinating Cousin Hebe, and the variety of form, size, and costume in the train was remarkable.

When the First Lord actually appeared his salutation was universal. The change in character from John Stofel to Sir Joseph Porter was a great one, and when we remember that Mr. Williamson has never attempted anything musical before, our surprise increases. Sir Joseph was attired in the full gorgeousness of court dress - white silk stockings, white vest and "continuations", with a magnificently embroidered coat. He had an air of venerable philanthropic condescension, and was the sworn friend of every seaman. As after the chorus of ladies and crew, Sir Joseph prepared to give the history of his position, and gravely but quite correctly sang the first verse, there was an evident look of surprise on finding that the grand personage who stood in front of the stage added singing to his "official" qualifications. Mr. Williamson does not pretend to rival Lablache, but he did what many who make singing their profession often fail to do - he sang every note in good tune without one error, and he never failed to take up his part at the proper time. His acting was thoroughly refined. He was truely the First Lord come to inspect the ship, and very mindful of the attractions he proposed in return for the charms of the Captain's daughter.

The details of the story are so familiar, while the rendering by the present company is so totally unlike that hitherto given, that we have necessarily spoken at length on the manner in which several characters were brought before us.

The mounting of the scenery, excellence and exactness of costume is all that could be desired. The orchestra is good and well able to do its work; the principals are thoroughly in earnest; those who though accustomed to the stage are new to their parts have created most favourable impressions as to their reading, and we predict increasing fame to Mr. and Mrs. Williamson in their roles. The bridal dress was very becoming, and the trio, which included a pas de deux for the Admiral and Josephine, was loudly encored.

Miss C. Deorwyn gave much satisfaction by her vivacious acting, and to all performers concerned too much praise cannot be awarded for their efforts in giving to what has erroneously considered as a burlesque, an elevated tone befitting the characters of the persons satirized.

We shall refer to other particulars when some of the new members are a little more at ease; nevertheless we are bound to say, that remembering the great difficulties in the way, too great praise can hardly be given for the thoroughness with which everything has been put upon the stage, no trifle has been too small for attention; the marines were a novel addition and made a splendid accompaniment.

If half the care were given to preparations for entertainments where very much more is attempted, our work of judging results would be infinitely easier. The applause was liberally bestowed, and the curtain was raised after the first act.

Sydney Morning Herald. Monday Nov 17th, 1879.


Two sisters, named Susan and Sarah Wilkins, aged 19 and 17 years, residing in Collingwood, have been carrying on a novel kind of robbery for the last few months. Their plan was to watch children going on errands to shops, to ask them if they wanted lollies, giving them pennies to buy some, and then offering to take charge of the children's money till they returned, assuring them that they were friends of their mammas. In this manner they succeeded in securing sums varying from 6d to a £ note. The police suspected them for a long time, and watched them in plain clothes for weeks. They were caught in the act, and are now locked up on remand, a large number of charges having been laid against them.

Melbourne Age. October 2nd, 1879.


During Saturday the Exhibition building in Prince Alfred Park, the scene of the go-as-you-please pedestrian tournament, was visited by large numbers of people, and as the evening drew on and the conclusion of the contest approached, the building was literally packed by eager and excited spectators. A brass band was again in attendance, and if it did not exactly discourse most eloquent music, its strains, at any rate, sufficed to afford some relief to the senses of those who had narrowly observed the tournament during the day and needed relaxation. As the hands of the timekeepers' clock approached 10, the excitement became intense, and each succeeding lap of the contestants was watched and noted with marked interest. The form of those competing was scrutinised and loudly commented upon, and the exertions of the attendants in encouraging their friends were unremitting. Edwards, throughout the evening, was the subject of much admiration, and the freshness and vigour of his style won for him loud plaudits and a host of new friends. At 10 o'clock the tournament concluded, and amid uproarious cheers, Edwards was pronounced the winner, he having traversed 153 miles and 5 laps in the 48 hours. J.C. Williams came next with 148 miles and 9 laps.

Sydney Morning Herald. Monday November 17th, 1879.


Counter attractions had the effect of causing the attendance at the School of Arts, on Saturday evening, to be rather limited. The entertainment was similiar to that of preceding evening. Some of the pictures are very cleverly executed, and nightly elicit applause, while the pastimes of the Maoris command undivided attention. At the close of the performance the chief thanked the audience for their attendance. He said that he and his countryman had not come over to make money, but merely to see Sydney and its people, from whom, he added, they had received every kindness. As the Maoris only remain a few nights longer, it would be well for those who care to see the dances of this interesting race not to lose the opportunity.

Sydney Morning Herald. Monday November 17th, 1879.

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