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Show goes on after lights go off at Islington theatre

PUBLISHED: 16:02 23 November 2010

HMS Pinafore actors perform by candlelight

HMS Pinafore actors perform by candlelight

Archant

A MASSIVE power cut at the King’s Head Theatre did not stop a plucky troupe of actors from putting on their first-night show – even though they had to perform by candlelight.

The lights went out at 6.30pm on Wednesday at the theatre in Upper Street, Islington - just 45 minutes before the curtain was due to go up on the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta HMS Pinafore.

The power ended up staying out for five hours, but the nine-strong cast of young singers – who have been described as a “spunky little troupe” – insisted that the show must go on.

So with 20 candles stuck on chairs, and with foil underneath to reflect more light, the actors took to the stage – as the 100-strong audience all stayed to cheer them on.

HMS Pinafore director John Savournin cheekily described the atmosphere as “electric”.

He said: “This ended up with a really authentic performance as Gilbert & Sullivan used to be performed by gaslight. People said they saw the show in a new light.”

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artist director at the King’s Head Theatre, which was recently relaunched as London’s Little Opera House, said: “Often in the theatre, you are presented with these kinds of problems. But opera has existed a lot longer than electricity – and the music, the story, the singing is so good that you don’t really need the kinds of tricks that electricity can bring. It was really beautiful.”

HMS Pinafore, which pokes fun at the Royal Navy to satirise the snobbery and hyprocrisy of the 19th-century English social system, premiered in 1878 at the Opera Comique in London.

It went on to become librettist WS Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan’s first smash hit, with a run of 571 performances.

* HMS Pinafore is showing at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, Islington, until December 8.


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