The Pirates of Penzance

Date 24th March 2022
Society Hereford Gilbert & Sullivan Operatic Society
Venue The Courtyard Hereford
Type of Production G&S
Director Alan Durman
Musical Director Hannah Roper
Guest Conductor Colin Hales


Author: Bruce Wyatt

This was my first visit to the Society and very pleased to see them back on the boards after what was in practice a three-year break. Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Pirates of Penzance' premiered in December 1879, remains one of their most popular creations. Set in Cornwall in Victorian times, it tells the adventures of the love-struck Frederic, who is indentured to a group of comically useless and tender-hearted pirates.

‘Frederic’ played by Jake Dixon, a dashing figure of a young man sang with confidence and commanded the stage well throughout. He believes he is free to leave the pirates on his 21st birthday. During his misplaced apprenticeship ‘Ruth’ has remained by his side as his nursemaid  and harbours a desire to marry him. Gill Haslam as ‘Ruth’ was beautifully expressive and brought out every ounce of the character, particularly when being rejected by ‘Frederic’.  The pirates and their pirate King are seldom successful pirates and these were all well portrayed. Richard Hichens looked the very part as the ‘Pirate King’ and the scene when his pirates transported him around the stage on a sack-truck was very amusing! Cameron Bryan as ‘Samuel’ added some great touches.

When the ladies appear ‘Frederic’ is smitten my ‘Mabel’ one of the ‘Major General’s daughters. Laura Harrison as ‘Mabel’ had a powerful and well controlled voice – I was impressed that although I was attending the 2nd day of the run this was Laura’s first, having been absent for a number of days due to illness. All the girls take a shine to ‘Frederic’ including ‘Isabel’ expressively portrayed by Wendy Winterburn. Jim Smith as  ‘Major General Stanley’ looked at home with a completely natural portrayal and gave a very accomplished rendition of ‘I am the very model of a modern Major General’. Lucy Walden (‘Kate’) and Megan Reid (‘Edith’) also gave great support.

Act 2 included several more highlights including ‘When the foeman bares his steel’ with an amusing ‘Sergeant of Police’ played by John Watkins ‘Now for the pirates’ lair!’ sung by ‘Frederic’ ‘Ruth’ and the ‘King’ and ‘With cat-like tread, upon our pray we steal’ (Samuel, Pirates and Police). The stage accommodated the set well and the costumes were fantastic. The chorus sang with great enthusiasm supported by a well-controlled orchestra. Congratulation to all involved.