For me, the essence of amateur theatre has its genesis in productions staged in Institute, Soldiers Memorial or similar community halls and meeting places across the land. These productions are often the vehicles that unearth hidden talent or simply allow anybody willing to “have a go” at being on stage. Green Wall Studio’s offering of “The Pirates of Penzance” fits this bill to perfection. Director Jake Salter with MD Jason Matulick and choreographer Louise McCullough make good use of the studio as the blank canvas upon which their vibrant production is given shape and life.
There is energy and verve in the opening “Pour the Pirate Sherry” with Samuel and the Pirates all. The Pirate King (Brendan Watts) makes his presence felt in “Better far to Live and Die” together with his pirate band. He has a strong well modulated baritone and articulates his delivery in keeping with his leadership status. The Pirate chorus is well matched by the girls who are “Climbing over Rocky Mountains”. Indeed chorus work throughout is is sound, enthusiastic and vigorous as it should be. Diction can always be improved. It is a common and vexing issue when previous stage experience is either thin or non existent. The audience needs to hear the words in order to follow the story and appreciate its humour.
Mabel (Pippa Stolarski) does well in this regard. She has a voice sweet and true. It lacks power and carry at the moment but this will certainly improve with more experience. She attacks her role with consistent conviction. Pippa’s ” Poor Wand’ring One” with the chorus of girls is lovely. The Major General (Jessica Reschke) has the responsibility of selling the iconic “I am the very Model of a Model Major General”. It is a tricky task to capture and master just the right syncopation for us to appreciate the lyrics and Jessica makes a pretty fair job of the challenge. Our hero (Troy Pudney) certainly looks the part. His voice is quite true of pitch and its range more than just adequate for the role, but it too lacks strength and carry. He really needs to relax, let go and allow his vocal ability to “roam free”. This will help to better shape and consolidate the character he portrays. Once again, these things come with experience and confidence. Troy is at his best with his duet with Ruth and later in the well delivered “Paradox” trio with both Ruth and the Pirate King. Ruth (Eboni Parst) has a voice and the intrinsic ability to sell it that is well suited to musical theatre. Her diction, pitch and timing are all excellent. Eboni makes the most of her character and is a great role model for the cast as a whole. She, along with the Pirate King (Brendan) and Mabel (Pippa) provide the vocal strength that carries the show. The aforementioned “Paradox” song, the vehicle for these three voices combined was a highlight for me. I liked it a lot.
Lachlan Anderson as Samuel throws himself into his Pirate part with admirable gusto. I look forward to seeing him a more substantial role sometime soon. The Sergeant of Police (Alexandra White) bravely leads her somewhat depleted force. She too has stage presence and potential. It is the very junior probationary(?) constables who steal the show in the second act. Owen and Mitch have the audience in the palms of their hands. Well done lads! And that remark applies to all involved both onstage and off, with costume, makeup and all things technical. I have been in many country town performance spaces and I certainly felt at home in this one. The appreciative audience was well entertained by this heartily energetic performance of “Pirates”.