THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE
by W. S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan.
Tour to 28 June 2015.
Richmond Theatre, Little Green, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1QJ to 18 April 2015.
Fri & Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 5 min One interval.
A delightful Men Only evening.
Sasha Regan’s all-male Gilbert and Sullivan productions have enjoyed considerable success, largely because she ignores the drag aspects of men in women’s clothes and simply presents the actors as actors. There are no wigs, no false bosoms.
Her first production of Pirates of Penzance in 2010 won awards, touring Britain, then Australia in autumn 2012. Now it is back with a completely new cast.
It is an evening of many delights which fizzes along at speed. Maybe W.S. Gilbert will be turning in his grave, at the goings-on, not because of the all-male cast but because the production really does not do his satire justice. Perhaps Sullivan may feel the same about the singing. Some of the actors sing falsetto rather well, some not.
Collectively they do. It is the solos that give problems, especially for Mabel (Alan Richardson). Sullivan was sending up those ladies of his day who trilled away at the top of their range, when Mabel goes over those rocky mountains lamenting poor wandering ones in trills and high notes.
But the pluses are considerable. Ruth, the obligatory Gilbertian spinster, is played by Alex Weatherhill in fine voice. James Waud delivers the Sergeant of Police’s number with stentorian effect, and as Frederic, the indented pirate, Samuel Nunn, making his professional debut, sings and acts with real charm.
Regan’s production looks a little bit lost on the large Richmond stage, the set being a minimal collection of crates and a blue backcloth. But touring productions have to fit all sorts of stages and in other venues it could command the house. The costumes, in shades of beige, are very pretty – as are the pirates – the maidens the pirates woo. less so.
The ensemble sings well, dances with enthusiasm and works hard, switching genders and costumes in a trice, a pirate one moment, a maiden the next; then, suddenly, a policeman.
Accompaniment is provided by a pianist, musical director David Griffiths, doing full justice to the score and not thumping the keys in a bid to make an impression. This is a summer treat by any standards.
Mabel: Alan Richardson.
Frederic: Samuel Nunn.
Ruth: Alex Weatherhill.
Major General: Miles Western.
Pirate King: Neil Moors.
Isabelle: Christ Theo Cook.
Kate: Dale Page.
Edith: Ben Irish.
Hebe: Richard Edwards.
Sergeant of Police: James Waud.
Samuel: Michael Burgen,
Ensemble: Tommy Knapp, Thomas Henson, Liam Lakin, Matt Jolly, William Whelton, Joseph Houston, Joel Elferink.
Dance Captain: William Whelton.
Director: Sasha Regan.
Designer: Robyn Williams.
Lighting: Jack Weir.
Musical Director: David Griffiths.
Choreographer: Lizzi Gee.
Assistant choreographer: Iona Holland.
13-18 Apr 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Richmond Theatre 0844 871 7651 www.atgtickets.com/richmond
20-25 Apr 7.30pm Mat Thu 1.30pm Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Winchester 01962 840440 www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk
27 Apr –2 May Mon-Wed 7.30pm; Thu-Sat 8pm Mat Wed & Sat 8pm Theatre Royal Bath 01225 448844 www.theatreroyal.org.uk
4–9 May Mon-Thu 745pm Fri, Sat 8pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford 01483 440000 www.yvonne-araud.co.uk
19-20 May 7.30pm East Riding Theatre Beverley 01482 874050 www.eastridingtheatre.co.uk
21-23 May 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm The Spa Bridlington 01262 678258 www.thespabridlington.com
26-30 May 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.3pm Theatre Royal Brighton 0844 871 7650 www.atgtickets.com/brighton
2-6 Jun 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Northcott Theatre Exeter 01392 493493 www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
24-28 Jun Wed-Sat 7.30pm Sun 5pm Mat Sat 1.45pm Hackney Empire 020 8985 2424 www.hackneyempire.co.uk