Casting has been confirmed for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company return of Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore to the West End's Savoy Theatre, the company's spiritual home (See News, 15 Jul 2002). The production - which is the fourth D'Oyly Carte production at the Savoy this year - has a limited 12-week season from 18 December 2002 (previews from 13 December).

The new cast are Sam Kelly (as Sir Joseph Porter), Tom McVeigh (Captain Corcoran), Joseph Shovelton (Ralph Rackstraw), Gareth Jones (Dick Deadeye), Della Jones (Buttercup) and Sophie Louise Dann (Hebe), with Alison Rae Jones and Samantha Hay sharing the role of Josephine.

The D'Oyly Carte production of HMS Pinafore previously played six weeks at the Savoy in 2000 when it, along with the company's The Mikado, was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production.

The popular G&S operetta was first seen in 1878, when it ran at the West End's Aldwych Theatre for nearly two years. The humorous look at class relations is presented through the story of a humble sailor, Ralph, who has found out that the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Joseph Porter, is his rival for the hand of the captain's daughter in marriage. The score includes 'When I Was a Lad', 'I'm Called Little Buttercup' and 'For He Is an Englishman'.

In 1876 Richard D'Oyly Carte formed the Comedy Opera Company and the following year produced The Sorcerer, his first collaboration with Gilbert and Sullivan. The ensuing success of their partnership enabled D'Oyly Carte to build the Savoy Theatre in 1882. It was the first public building to be lit throughout by electricity. The theatre was virtually destroyed by fire in 1990 but, after extensive refurbishments, it reopened in 1993.

The D'Oyly Carte Company continues to be dedicated to producing faithful recreations of the Savoy Operas of Gilbert & Sullivan. Its previous productions at the Savoy this year were Iolanthe, The Yeomen of the Guard and the return of The Mikado, starring comedian Jasper Carrott.

Currently at the Savoy, the West End return of Yasmina Reza's Life x 3 - starring David Haig, Belinda Lang, Serena Evans and David Yelland - completes its run on 7 December 2002.

- by Terri Paddock