Pirates of Penzance - Review

Pirates of Penzance

The review shown below was written by David Briffet, about the premier of a new version of Pirates of Penzance, which was performed by HAODS between 28th April and 2nd May, 2009, at Horsham's Capitol Theatre.

Tangos, Sambas and Rumbas

For this production of Pirates, HAODS' musical director, Brian D Steel, completely rewrote the score, introducing rhythms and styles from in and around the Caribbean, to adapt the show to Yvonne Chadwell's lively production which was set on a tropical island, rather than a Cornish beach! Brian explains how his musical arrangements came about in this article, which he originally wrote as a preface to the show programme.

What the Papers Said - "A fresh approach to Penzance"

Here is the review, in full text and facsimile, as it appeared in the West Sussex County Times, on Friday, 15 May 2009 ...

Pirates of Penzance - Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society - The Capitol

THIS is one of the most popular comic operas composed by Gilbert and Sullivan and some might feel that it did not need to change one dot.

Yet, Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society took the bold step of re-writing the whole score through the talented pen of Brian Steel and embellishing the show with their own quirky moments to provide something very unexpected and completely different.

From Penzance we were transported onto a rocky Caribbean beach to jazzed up rhythms, with touches of calypso and samba, where the life of craggy pirates is thrown into chaos by the arrival of the Major General and his motley collection of marriageable daughters.

What the new score does not do is undermine the impact of how an absurd storyline is manipulated by the genius of G&S to produce cutting satire and the poking of fun at class, officialdom, the peerage and even the police. And that is what people enjoy most.

The HAODS cast of 31 tackled the new experience with great verve and a real sense of fun. The scenery created by Ann Jennings was excellent and once again the costumes department came up trumps. Both male and female choruses were in fine fettle, the dancing and movement well co- ordinated, whilst from amidst the cavorting and cacophony of the continuous action emerged no fewer than six very impressive individual performances.

Mark Freeman as the rebellious Frederic, the high note singing of Siobhan McMahon, Pirate King Kevin Summers, the excellent Judi Weaver as Ruth, and the imposing presences of Major General Adrian Taylor and Sergeant Stephen Gadd. It is rare to have two stars in a show, to have six was some achievement. There was great support from the whole team including Katy Kinsella, making her Horsham debut, Alison Shapley, Charlotte Taylor and Gus Quintero-Fryatt.

The big songs were handled with great confidence. The powerful chorus at the conclusion of act one was full of richness whilst the three trios performed by Weaver, Freeman and Summers in the second act were of a very high order.

Traditionalists may not quickly accept such tinkering with revered G & S formats, however HAODS, director Yvonne Chadwell and musical director Brian Steel deserve full marks for their daring and originality.

David Briffett, for the West Sussex County Times

Pirates of Penzance - Review Pirates of Penzance - Photo