Thursday, 24 September 2015

"The Pirates Of Penzance" by Derby Gilbert & Sullivan Company
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton

When your reputation goes before you, as it does with the Derby Gilbert & Sullivan Company, you expect an excellent show. Guess what? That's exactly what we all got on Thursday night, an excellent evening of comedy and rousing song from the pens of W.S Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan, masters of their craft. Not unlike the Derby G&S Company!

From the first bar of the Overture to the last breath of the Finale, we were transported musically to a land far away, well Cornwall; Penzance to be exact by an amazing wall of sound from the singers and the excellent orchestra under the musical direction of Andrew Nicklin, who also directed the show. The ensemble sections were powerful and the solo parts were clear as a bell.

I marvelled at the costumes, not just for the pirates but for the ladies too, Everything was spot on, showing this company knows their stuff and are confident in delivering it. The police uniforms were straight out of the Keystone Cops wardrobe and the Major General attire was exuberant and bright.

Andy McPhee as Frederic, the pirate who tried to choose another vocation away from piracy, but as he was born on February 29th, it was brought to his attention by the Pirate King (Matthew Siveter) that his duty didn't expire until his 21st Birthday, As his birthday only came around every four years, he was really only five and a quarter, so he couldn't relinquish his role. Andy's voice was clear and strong and his facial expressions and comedy stylings of the role were wonderful to see.

As too was Matthew, one of the youngest on stage, but one of the tallest as well. You couldn't mistake him in the crowd of pirates. G&S is in his blood as he has been performing their works from the age of twelve. He looks like he's having fun on stage and I'm sure that he is and that floods over to the audience, making sure that we have as much fun watching him.

Sarah Carlin played Mabel, Frederic's desired one. What a gorgeous, clear and powerful voice, and so natural and easy to listen to. She just opens her mouth and all of these wonderful notes just tumble out effortlessly.

G&S love their tongue twisters and of course the character of the Major-General has the job of delivering THE one in "Pirates". Phillip Fry delivers a speedy and faithful version of "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General" which drew a rapturous round of applause at the end of the song.

I love the role of Ruth, the only girl Frederic has seen in his life, and the bench mark he judges the female form on until he sets eyes on the ladies of Penzance. She is fiesty and will fight to keep her man, well she thinks that Frederick is her man. Ruth is played by Julie Bjerregaard.

The Sergeant of the police is an ideal role for Stephen Godward. Comical and so much fun to watch, and I loved the simple police choreography. Stephen got to sing one of my favourite pieces of Gilbert & Sullivan, "When A Felon's Not Engaged In His Employment" also known by "A Policeman's Lot Is Not A Happy One".

The whole cast are wonderful and at times you forget that you're not watching a professional production in a bigger venue.

There are several really well known pieces in this operetta. "With Cat-like Tread", the afore mentioned "Modern Major General", "Felon" and "How Beautiful Blue The Sky" being among them, all wonderful fun to hear performed so splendidly.

Watching this production you can see where the comedy greats over the years, Monty Python, The Two Ronnies and even comedians like Eric Sykes got inspiration from because the action borders on over the top, camp and slapstick which makes watching shows like this so very entertaining and I for one could have done with at least another chorus or two as the night came to end quicker than I realised.

"The Pirates Of Penzance" is docking at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 26 September 2015.

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