The Savoyaires, Evanston’s resident Gilbert and Sullivan troupe, stride into the perennial classic “H.M.S. Pinafore” this week with Amy Uhl at the helm.

The well-known story of “the lass that loved a sailor,” “H.M.S. Pinafore” is one of the most widely produced Gilbert and Sullivan pieces. Songs include “I’m Called Little Buttercup,” “I Am the Captain of the Pinafore,” “When I Was a Lad,” “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore,” “He Is an Englishman,” and others known across cultures for founding musical tropes.

Director Amy Uhl assisted the directors behind Broadway’s “Amazing Grace” and has extensive experience with the repertoire of Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as other musical theatre works.

Uhl, associate professor of theatre at Columbia College, first worked with Gilbert and Sullivan as choreographer of “Pirates of Penzance.” “I mean, a show with Pirates?” she says, “How can you not want to do that? Also, the music is glorious and certainly worth celebrating in order to perpetuate these operettas. I am an artist who enjoys paying tribute to tradition, yet I seek opportunities within the work to make it relevant for today’s audiences.”

After choreographing the 2010 Savoyaires production of “The Gondoliers,” Uhl is returning to take on that role as well as direction.

Uhl’s dual work as director/choreographer on “Pinafore” gives her an opportunity to, in her words, “streamline” design concepts to “create a heightened quality for the production.” Her focus, as with other productions of Gilbert and Sullivan classics in Chicago, is to pay tribute to tradition while finding “qualities and concepts that speak to me as to ‘why do this show, and why do it now?’”

Recent productions, including Chicago favorite The Hypocrites’ productions, of the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire favor the everlasting qualities of fun and thrill, rather than the traditionalism behind operetta.

“I look for an overall message in every production I do,” Uhl said. “There is a line that the Captain delivers to Sir Joseph in an effort to convince him into a relationship with his daughter, Josephine, where he declares, ‘…love levels all ranks.’ This particular line became the overall message to me and provided the reason why we should do this show in 2015. Recent events that have made history in our country celebrate marriage equality….love ‘wins’ for everyone. Our version of ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ celebrates this in a joyous way and I felt strongly about making it the central message for our audiences.”

Tickets for “H.M.S. Pinafore” are available at or via phone at 847-563-0155.

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