"The Children's Pinafore"


SCOTT, Clement. OUR PLAY-BOX. "THE CHILDREN'S PINAFORE." The Theatre 1880 January 1 new [3rd.] series 1: 38-39


Being a Representation of the entirely Original Nautical Opera, in Two Acts, "H.M.S. PINAFORE; OR, THE LASS THAT LOVED A SAILOR." Written by W. S. GILBERT. Composed by ARTHUR SULLIVAN. The Characters impersonated entirely by Children.
Opera Comique Theatre, December 16th, 1879.

  The Right Hon. Sir 
         Joseph Porter,              MASTER E. PICKERING
  Captain Corcoran                MASTER H. GRATTAN.
  Ralph Rackstraw                 MASTER H. EVERSFIELD.
  Dick Deadeye                     MASTER W. PHILLIPS.
    Bill Bobstay       MASTER E. WALSH.
    Bob Becket       MASTER CHAS. BECKER
    Tom Tucker       MASTER A. FITZCLARENCE.
    Josephine           MISS EMILIE GRATTAN.
    Hebe                  MISS LOUISA GILBERT.
    Little Buttercup   MISS EFFIE MASON.

CHRISTMAS treats to the little ones take various forms, and range from a Punch-and-Judy show in the back drawing-room to a visit to the far-famed and irresistible Polytechnic. But if anyone asked me how best I could delight a private box full of children of all ages and sizes, I should decidedly say by expending a little judicious capital at the Opera Comique, where some exceedingly clever youngsters act "H.M.S. Pinafore" in admirable style and without a tinge of juvenile precocity. There is nothing that children like better than to see children act. The Lilliputian scenes in the pantomime are always the most popular; and a manager has only to introduce a baby columbine, a youthful clown, and a boy pantaloon, to get the whole house in laughter. Recently, in the days of Mr. F. B. Chatterton, a capital pantomime was acted at the Adelphi entirely by masters and misses in their teens; and only last year we were all astonished wit hthe sly fun and boundless vivacity of some Italian children, who played "La Fille de Madame Angot." But I don't believe that London has ever seen anything better than the baby "Pinafore." The humour is fresh and spontaneous, there is no parrot-like prating or tedious conceit, and, best of all, the children from first to last sing in tune. Where all are so good, thanks to clever Mr. Barker and Mr. Cellier, the instructor and conductor, it seems invidious to mention names; but the distinct enunciation and admirable clearness of Little Buttercup (Miss Effie Mason), who has a woman's voice with a child's face; the taste and modesty of the love-lorn Josephine (Miss Emilie Grattan); the quaint rollicking fun of Dick Deadeye (Master William Phillips), a most mischievous young rascal; and the clever imitations of the original Sir Joseph Porter and Captain Corcoran by Master Edward Pickering and Master Harry Grattan, deserve to be recognised. As for the Midshipmite, he creates a roar whenever he struts across the deck. But the thing that pleased me most was the singing and the sentimental acting of Master Harry Eversfield as Ralph Rackstraw. This boy has one of those pure and delicious cathedral voices that pierces the listener through and through; and he has acquired a wonderful style of singing for one so young. What a pity it seems that such a voice should ever break, possibly never to be recovered, haply to change into an uncertain baritone or a deep bass! The rest of the children treat the whole thing as a joke, but the heart of this lad is in his work; and it is a pleasure to watch his earnest and intelligent young face. It is worth all the money on the part of lovers of music to hear this boy sing Sullivan's music.  C.S.


transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 14 November 2000
updated 18 March 2007