The Pirates of Penzance

Date 23rd November 2018
Society Bath G & S Society
Venue The Mission Theatre, Bath
Type of Production G&S
Director Juliette Coad
Musical Director Tobias Lazenbury
Choreographer Juliette Coad


Author: Matthew Heaton

‘Pirates’ is one of the most frequently performed Gilbert and Sullivan operas and I’m very pleased to say that I enjoyed your production immensely.

The layout of the open set created immediate interest as you entered the auditorium. The fixed set per Act was simple but very effective. The raised platform ‘island’ was used to great effect in both Acts to increase the height of the performers in various numbers. The use of the wooden boxes was excellent also in creating continuous height and interesting positions for the cast. In fact, the choreography of the cast positioning and staging equally to both audience sides, whilst ensuring the action could be seen by all was expertly done. There was also more formal dance choreography for several of the musical numbers. In general, this was excellent too and was appropriately set for those whom could dance and those whom find dancing more of a challenge. The men were really made to stretch themselves in ‘When the Foreman Bares his Steel’ and ‘When A Felon’s Not Engaged’.

The lighting was very atmospheric and both well cued and well-lit. There was some nice spot work, particularly for Mabel and Frederic’s duet. Sound was generally very good. The small venue allowed the un-amplified voices to carry well and everything could be heard, even in the chorus numbers. Props all seemed to be in place and were of a good standard.  The costumes were genuinely stunning - I loved them!  More modern pirate styles were used to great effect, all individual and all with an essence of ‘Steam Punk’. The daughter’s costumes were terrific too and of a matching theme.

Overall the music in the production was very good. The music was well performed by the orchestra and their selection worked well, never over-powering the voices of the performers.

The show was very well sung. In general, the solos, duets and trios were excellent. The Director took every opportunity to keep all of the Chorus busy.

In terms of Principals:

·         Major General Stanley was highly entertaining, slightly bumbling but perfectly charming and in the style of a Victorian Explorer - absolutely ideal for this production. There were some really nice timings in ‘I am the very model’ around the thoughts for the rhymes too.

·         The Pirate King performed with great panache and style and more than just a nod to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, which worked an absolute treat, without ever treading into the realm of up-staging anyone else or over-playing to the audience.

·         Samuel was performed with great energy and timing and carried off very well.

·         Frederic put in a terrific performance for a first time G & S role, played it confidently, with a slightly cockier style and assurance in dialogue, movement and vocals.

·         The Sergeant of Police marched, hid, ran, quaked, moved and danced with his men and sang ‘When the Foreman Bears his Steel’ and ‘A Policeman’s Lot’ with great control and measure.

·         Mabel had the type of Soprano voice that you hear infrequently in Amateur Theatre today and was genuinely stunning and played the part with a great sense of fun.

·         Edith sang well and made the very best of this role and Kate preformed a successful dance solo too.

·         Ruth put absolutely everything into the part and approached it all with great energy, gusto and charm.

Overall this was a terrific production of The Pirates of Penzance. The setting was innovative, expertly choreographed and completely engaging. It was packed full of detail and content from all performers, so few opportunities were missed to enhance the production. There were many excellent performances overall, but its greatest strength was the sense of team work and effort on stage to create a sum greater than all of the parts. Thank you for another excellent production and I look forward to your future ones!