Reviewed by Fran Edwards
This was a dream of a production! Being one of the most popular G&S operettas it gets a lot of attention. It has been given many different treatments, some successful, some not, but few have managed to breathe life into the tale in this way. The ruse of using a little boy’s dream as the vehicle works a charm.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that Richard Trevaskis has assembled a stellar cast, or that MD Ross Curtis has delivered a wonderful musical performance, or indeed that Choreographer Linda Williams has used her imagination and the cast to the best of their abilities.
Ian Andrew delivers a Fredrick to make the girls swoon, and Desiree Frahn is an idyllic Mabel. Wendy Rayner was made to play Ruth and Blake Parham is possibly the best Samuel I have seen. With Andrew Crispe delivering the silliness as the Sergeant of Police and Andrew Crayford, as potty as ever, as the Modern Major General the humour rolls along. All of these captained by a Pirate King with amazing vocal chords and a twinkle in his eye, Mark Oates.
The principal sisters played by Vanessa Shirley, Rebecca Raymond and Liana Nagy were full of fun as were the supporting bevy of beauties behind them. They were all on song, maidens, pirates and policemen, well drilled in steps and notes and each well characterised. Let us not forget Young Freddie, played on opening night by Tom Russell, he fitted into the performance as if his part were part of the authors original concept.
On David Lampard’s inspired set, in Bronwen Major’s delightful costumes all were well lit by Laraine Wheeler’s lights. The sound was well balanced by Matt Curtis’ expert team, we heard everyone! If I had to pick one thing and there always is one, it would be that Major General Stanley was a little hard to understand in his trade mark song. A combination of an accent, music that was slightly fast and maybe first night-itis, but really who doesn’t know the words anyway!