Pirates of Penzance - the Broadway Version

Date 12th October 2012
Society Harpenden Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Public Halls, Harpenden
Type of Production Musical
Director John Hebden
Musical Director Graham Thomson
Choreographer Chris Cuming


Author: NovaHorley

A really super production, it had pace, colour, humour and a wealth of excellent sounds from an enthusiastic cast. I was very impressed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
The set was excellent, it was colourful and had varying levels which were used by the cast, to create interest and dimension.
Lighting was mostly good and the rain was effective, if a little too early for the mention of it!
Sound was very well-balanced, there were a couple of places where the orchestra outdid the cast, but on the whole the balance was excellent. I compliment Graham Thomson on keeping the reins on his enthusiastic orchestra members, who created a lush sound that was incredibly uplifting. The use of three percussionists giving different elements gave the show a wonderful sound and feel – I loved it!
The overture was rousing, and I liked the assimilation of the waves.
The whole production was light-hearted, bright and pacey, John Hebden always seems to get a different take on this type of show, which engages the cast, some of it was a little cheesey, but it didn’t matter as the cast had bought into it and obviously enjoyed what they did, which of course always translates to the audience. I was very pleased to see that even the men’s chorus were unusually animated – the whole cast really gave their all.
Musically everything seemed to come together and there were no weak links. The production worked on all levels, and gave the audience an excellent evening’s entertainment.
Tom Handley was a suitably swash-buckling Pirate King, his whole persona was totally what you’d expect and very full-on – I enjoyed his portrayal very much, he moved around the stage and swung on ropes as if he’d been doing it for years, and his costume suited his devil-may-care character! Musically he gave strength and meaning to the numbers.
A new addition to HLOS was Andrew Whelan as Frederic – a first-rate find, who has a lovely voice that translated well to the part. He turned in a good performance showing the uncertainties of his position, and his growing relationship with Mabel.
David Crew was a wonderful Major General - he has such a commanding presence, and his patter song was excellent. I also liked the Major General’s sortie into ballet – it was very funny and accomplished well – nice arabesque David! His uniform gave him the imposing figure he needed against the motley crew of Pirates, and his charming daughters.
Colette Eagles was Ruth. Frederic’s nursemaid, who harboured thoughts of becoming his wife, until he discovered the joys of younger ladies. Colette acted the part really well, and held her own in some tricky musical numbers. I loved the transformation into black-clad siren in Act Two – a very good contrast and made the character even stronger.
The daughters were a good match for each other, very charming, bright and sparkling. Gill Pigram as Edith created a nice character and sang it well, she was a good contrast to Claire Millins as Kate, who also created a strong character – the expressions passed between these two ladies particularly were very good and very telling.
Penny Pomroy was a light and happy Isabel, with the other daughters a merry and expressive bunch, lovely colourful costumes, and Georgina Dalton was particularly sparkling.
Izzy Bates was an entirely charming Mabel, she sang it beautifully, and the feel of the piece showed off her style of voice well. I enjoyed her performance very much, and the relationship between her and Frederic was tangible.
Jonathan Field was a quietly amusing Sergeant of Police, I liked his characterisation, and he led his police troop exceedingly well. They got some really good sounds and looks, which contrasted with the pirates.
Matt Clothier was a very full on character as Samuel, it suited the part and indeed the whole men’s chorus were diverse, and I liked Roy Woodward’s character, a real comic.
Because of the way the show is written Act One was much more lively and engaging than Act Two, but nothing can take away from the fact that this was a very polished and slick show, with a fantastic sound from the orchestra and cast – I was mightily impressed and went away feeling the buzz created by the show.