Thoroughly entertaining! Therry’s latest production is the consummate G&S crowd pleaser, Pirates of Penzance and what a great choice it is. This century old production never fails to please with madcap antics of pirates, bobbies and general’s daughters and some of the finest and most memorable patter songs in Musical Theatre history.
Director Richard Trevaskis has assembled a fine cast and used them well. The production includes modern elements and added humour through clever use of the ensemble and in having characters break the fourth wall but is still, on the whole, true to its origins, pleasingly so.
Chad Crittle is excellent as the rambunctious Pirate King with fine voice and a penchant for flamboyance as he leads the ramshackle crew of pirates. Jared Frost, though a little mature to be pirate apprentice Frederic, is delightful in the role, coping admirably with the challenging score and bringing a subtlety to the humour of his character through his understated and earnest approach. Vocally the show is transported to a new stratosphere when we meet Mabel, Serena Martino Williams, whose crystal-clear soprano voice is a pleasure and she fulfils the acting requirements with a fine portrayal of the tender emotion and underlying strength of her character.
There are many other performances worthy of mention. Vanessa Lee Shirley has impressive comic timing and is clearly enjoying the role of cantankerous Ruth. Nicolas Bishop as the General delivers the indomitable ‘Modern Major General’ song with polish and precision. Nathan Quaddrio draws the eye with his immersive depiction of Samuel.
The talents of Musical Director Mark Sandon and Choreographer Konstanz Symeonakis are most evident in their work with the ensemble who deliver good vocals and exuberant movement. The orchestra are tight and never drown out the action on stage.
The costumes, designed by the multi-talented Vanessa Lee Shirley, are stylish and effective although I’d like to have seen some distinction in Frederic’s attire from apprentice Pirate to indenture free paramour of the Major General’s daughter. The set by Tim De Jong and Vanessa Lee Shirley is simple and while in act one it feels a little incongruous to the overall artistic expression, in act two it is the perfect backdrop to the monochrome outfits. With clever lighting design by Mike Philips, the scenes are visually balanced and appealing.
This is a well-paced, buoyant and uplifting production that will engage lifelong fans of Gilbert and Sullivan as well as those new to the material.
The Pirates of Penzance – The Broadway Version
The Arts Theatre
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