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The Pirates of Penzance

Date

5th April 2019

Society

Gosforth Musical Society

Venue

The Jubilee Theatre, Gosforth

Type of Production

Operetta

Director

Laurence Scott

Musical Director

Philip Hall

Report

Author: Michael L Avery

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance premiered in New York in 1879, and, later, in London, in 1880, being well received by critics and audiences.  It involves Frederic who, having reached his 21st year believes he has completed his apprenticeship to an unlikely band of pirates.  He falls in love with Mabel, one daughter of Major General Stanley, but finds he’s not actually free until his 21st birthday.  Worse, being born on 29th February, he still has several decades to go.  Still. Mabel agrees to wait!   And so it goes …

Anyone who has read my G&S Reports will know I confess to not really “getting it”.  Well, surprise, surprise!  I really enjoyed this.  Perhaps it’s just assimilation since becoming NODA Rep; or, maybe this show is more accessible than others; or, maybe, this was just a good show/production.  I laughed spontaneously at some amusing, choreographed bits of business performed by the Chorus which also elicited the same response from the rest of the audience who were, clearly, more in tune than me!

The principals comfortably fitted their roles.  Gareth Jones (Frederic) is, perhaps, marginally past 21 but the audience were happy to overlook this.  Steven Aitchison, as the Pirate King, has just the right amount of swagger (and a suitable hat, see later) to carry off the role convincingly.  Jenny Parkin is Ruth, Frederic’s nursemaid, who now hopes to become his significant other.  Sadly, for her, Frederic encounters the daughters of the Major-General (Jonathan Wood), one of whom is Mabel (Grace Ridley).  The Sergeant of Police (Mark Buckley) performs his show stopper with a well drilled group of male (and female) “Keystone” Cops.

The show features two very familiar G&S songs and much familiar music, even to me.  Jonathan Wood gives a very amusing version of I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General; and Mark Buckley and his troupe brought the humour out of A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One.  All principals carried off their duet and individual numbers well.  Grace Ridley and Jenny Parkin, perhaps, deserve special mention – as does the Chorus who always make a very agreeable sound.  Scenery was minimal but sufficient, costumes were indicative, rather than complete, which worked too.  The orchestra under the baton of Philip Hall were, to my ears, little less than perfect.  All in all, a spritely, entertaining evening.