The play takes place in Portsmouth aboard Her Majesty’s Ship the H.M.S. Pinafore. Josephine, the daughter of Captain Corcoran, has fallen in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, but her father intends for her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of Admiralty. Little Buttercup, a dockside vendor, comes aboard and has knowledge of dark secrets. When Ralph hears Sir Joseph’s thoughts about equality he hopes to elope with Josephine but she feels that she must honour the arrangement with Sir Joseph. Before Ralph can commit suicide Josephine declares her love for him and they plan to elope that night. Dick Deadeye, one of Ralph’s shipmates, disapproves of their plan but the rest of the sailors are joyous.
Captain Corcoran confides to Little Buttercup that his world is falling apart and that he has affection for her, but cannot proceed because of their different social classes. Sir Joseph, promoting his upcoming nuptials, tells Josephine that love is the great equalizer. She interprets this to mean that she can continue to love Ralph. Dick Deadeye reveals the couple’s plan to elope. When Sir Joseph hears the Captain swear as the young couple try to leave the ship he confines him to his cabin. Ralph reveals his love for Josephine but Sir Joseph orders him to be taken to the brig in chains. Now Buttercup reveals her long-held secret: long ago she had mixed up two babies, one high-born and the other low. The high-born one was Ralph and the Captain was the low-born one. This means that Ralph should be Captain of the ship and the Captain should have Ralph’s position. They are each given a switch of uniform. Ralph becomes Captain, entitling him to marry Josephine now that he is of the same social class. Corcoran can marry Little Buttercup, as they are also now the same class. So much for equality! Sir Joseph decides to marry his cousin Hebe and all sing joyfully in celebration of the weddings to come.
Musical Director: H. Bramwell Bailey
Producer (Director): Miriam Graham
Dance Arranger : Jean Sheffield