The Pirates of Penzance

Date 23rd July 2021
Society Winchester Musicals & Opera Society
Venue Wolvesey Palace
Director Suzanne Hall
Musical Director Kate Hickson
Choreographer Suzanne Hall
Production Manager Kate Hickson


Author: Mark Allen

Warmly welcomed back to where we were only the week before, we were greeted by Suzanne Hall and taken to our seats. There had been a collaboration between "Chesil Theatre" and WMOS to use the same staging, (great to see the local societies working together), and although small and simple it was very effectively used. This Performance of The Pirates of Penzance was set in 1950's and the backdrop was a simple line of "Swimming Tents" for act one and the Baronial Hall for Act two. The show was well stage managed by Angie Barks, who had her work cut out with the flats with the occasional large gusts of wind. We settled in...

This was a well crafted, professional and entertaining show. The costumes were very colourful and very effective in transporting us to a bygone era. Both the male and female principals and  chorus in act one were spot on musically, with clear singing and brilliant diction. even allowing for being outside we could hear every word. The songs, hugely recognisable were sung with real love and gusto and most were intertwined seamlessly with famous songs of the 1950's, Hound Dog, Fever, Love me Tender and so on. It really brought something new. A brilliant Idea.

The band, ably led by Martin Patterson were equally enjoying themselves and the musical accompaniment from them moved the show along at an entertaining lick. The Major General, played  by David Tatnell sang the "i am the very model" to a whole new patter of words all aimed at the last 18 months and the Covid 19 effect. Delivered brilliantly and clearly. Notable performances here also by Kate Hickson as Ruth, Dan Hickson as Frederick (despite, maybe, being a slightly"older" Frederick but with a fabulous tenor voice) and  Rob Preston as The Pirate King, full of enthusiasm and playing to the audience extremely well. The fact is though all of the cast were very high quality. Choreography, simple well drilled and very effective. Everyone on stage was having such a good time, this really shone through and came over to the audience.

The second act started with a new backdrop and the introduction of the Sgt of Police (Alan Morgan) and his troupe, which turned out to be as members of the WI, again a wonderful Idea that had us all in stitches, and "a Policemans lot" took on a whole new meaning! As the sun began to set the simple and yet really effective lighting (Tony Lawther) took over and just added that little bit of extra to finish the show off to huge cheers and great applause.

This was a colourful and joyous performance, everyone of whom should be rightly proud of what they have achieved given all the trials, tribulations and difficulties that producing a show of this quality over "zoom" and with a very small "outdoor" rehearsal period placed in front of them. First rate and ten out of ten.

A note from the SE Councillor Kay Rowan

My companion and I had a delightful evening renewing our love of G & S in general but Pirates in particular.  The whole setting was arcadian and the organisation was superb, particularly the ladies of the "WI" manning 'front of house' in their costumes.  I wonder how many people realised they would see them later in another guise!  The evening whizzed by and as the evening shadows fell the lights came up creating a spectacular atmosphere.

The singing was fabulous throughout,  particularly the harmonies.  'Hail Poetry' was sublime and brought tears to the eyes.  The principals were well balanced and well rehearsed - they sang with conviction and emotion in all the various styles of music the creative team had cleverly amalgamated into the score.

The audience appreciation throughout, and particularly at the end, was without doubt genuine and heartfelt.  It has been said many times "We have all missed live theatre....."  This productions was of the highest standard of creativity and presentation. WMOS gave maximum enjoyment to all those priveleged to watch and indeed those who participated.