The Wreck of the Pinafore

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The Wreck of the Pinafore is a musical play by William Lingard (1837–1927)[1] and Luscombe Searelle (1860-1907)[2].

Also referred to simply as The Pinafore by Boonzaier (1923) on occasion.

The original text

During a tour of Australia with his company in 1880, Lingard did an unauthorised production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy opera H.M.S. Pinafore and was successfully sued in the Supreme Court of the Australian Colony of Victoria by the authors. This seems to have led to Lingard and Searelle writing the burlesque parody of the original opera, a kind of "sequel" called The Wreck of the Pinafore, in which the opera's characters are shipwrecked on a desert island.

According to an article in the Auckland Star (Volume XV, Issue 3724, 19 July 1882) the burlesque was apparently a "miserable olla podrida of filched melodies and second-hand satire" and was a dismal failure when first performed in Dunedin and Auckland, in San Francisco and other cities in the USA, that ultimately had a short-lived run at the Opera Comique, London, in 1882.[3]

Commentary on the programme for the opening night in London, provided on the website Gilbert & Sullivan. a selling exhibition of memorabilia, says of the latter failure: "..the composer, Luscombe Searelle ...had the gall to sail it into the Opera Comique (where the original had premiered) on May 27th 1882. ... Greeted with loud derision on opening night, The Wreck was soon wrecked, lasting only four performances".[4]

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1884: According to D.C. Boonzaier's memoirs (1923), this burlesque was performed under the shortened title (The Pinafore) as part of a season of plays put on in the Theatre Royal Cape Town by a company under the management of Henry Harper, with the leader of the company - H.C. Sidney in the role of "Sir Joseph Porter".


"Luscombe Searelle in London. His fiasco at the Opera Comique. The Wreck of the Pinafore Produced", Auckland Star, Volume Xv, Issue 3724, 19 July 1882[5]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 377

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