When William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan launched their fourth musical, HMS Pinafore or The Lass That Loved a Sailor, it was such a success, companies across the country began performing the musical without permission.

This Saturday, residents will have just one chance to find out why Pinafore was so popular then and why it remains so today.

The comic opera — performed by the North Central Texas Chorale — begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts at NCTC. This is the chorale’s only performance.

“It’s a really funny musical, and we have an outstanding cast,” said director Dr. Michael Linder during a telephone interview Wednesday.

HMS Pinafore ran for 571 performances in the late 19th century and was a blockbuster in England and the United States. It become Gilbert and Sullivan’s first break out hit.

The musical is known for its catchy tunes, good-natured silliness and happy ending. Pinafore was also, apparently, controversial when it opened in the Opera Comique May 28, 1878.

“It paralleled the life of a person who was appointed head of the British Navy and is a little like a soap opera,” Linder said.

HMS Pinafore is set on the Royal Navy’s ship H.M.S. Pinafore anchored in Portsmouth and is a story about love between people of different social classes.

Saturday night’s presentation of Pinafore is not a staged production of the musical, Linder explained.

“This is a concert version. There will be singing and dialogue and the actors will be in costume,” he said.

Linder said the chorale has never done anything quite like this.

“We’ve done masses and renaissance work with the orchestra, but not Gilbert and Sullivan,” he noted. “This is kind of a departure for us. We have really had a good time with it.”

He said the group has been working on the musical since January.

Dr. Jeffrey Snider, a baritone, is chair of the division of vocal studies at the University of North Texas College of Music and is singing the part of Captain Corcoran, the commander of the H.M.S. Pinafore.

Snider is, according to his biography on the UNT website, a native of Buffalo, New York, who “received both bachelors and masters degrees from Indiana University.”

He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas in 1996. In 1998 he returned to the University of North Texas as an Associate Professor in the College of Music and now serves as chair of the Division of Vocal Studies.

The chorale is made up of residents of the city and the county as well as NCTC students.

The group welcomes “anyone who loves choral singing and is willing to work at it,” a press release stated.

There are no auditions and rehearsals are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts except during the summer.

Although Gilbert and Sullivan’s portrayal of life on an 18th Century man-’o-war makes for good entertainment, the real life experiences of Royal Navy sailors was, apparently, less pleasant.

According to the Gilbert and Sullivan online archive published by Boise State University, the commander of the ship lived in relative comfort in an airy cabin with polished furniture including a bed and a desk.

Sailors lived below deck in close quarters. Their beds were hammocks. They ate their meals at crowded tables.

If a sailor died during a voyage, his hammock became his shroud. He was wrapped up in the hammock, weighted down and secured before other sailors dropped his body into the sea.

The NCTC musical is, however, a comedic look at life mixed with “subtle British humor,” Linder said.

“It’s gonna be really fun for the audience,” Linder promised.

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