Theatre Review: The Pirates of Penzance

Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ is an oft-performed and very well-known piece of theatre due to its fun nature and memorable songs.

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Presented by South Australian Light Opera Society (aka SALOS)
Reviewed 11 August 2016

Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance is an oft-performed and very well-known piece of theatre due to its fun nature and memorable songs. SALOS is the latest company to take on this classic and do so with much energy and enthusiasm. Although the vocally demanding score can sometimes get away from them, this is community theatre at its finest with the cast putting their heart and soul into performing.

Aaron McDonald portrays the romantic ‘slave of duty’ Frederic and, despite struggling with some of the higher notes, brings a fun and energetic portrayal of the character. As his love, Mabel, Danielle Ruggiero-Prior possesses one of the finer voices in the cast and delivers a hilarious performance with fantastic facials (especially in When the Foeman Bears His Steel). Alex Bond has taken the controversial route of performing The Pirate King in a Jack Sparrow-esque way and this is not always popular but he dedicates himself to the character and gives much energy to his performance. His voice is definitely strongest in its higher sections, which assists in strengthening the overall sound. As a delightful Ruth, Christine Southby has a lovely voice that, again, is strongest in its higher sections. Her acting is solid giving a strong interpretation of the character but her unamplified voice can sometimes be difficult to hear – but this is an infrequent occurrence.

In smaller roles, John Wilson, Daniel Martucci, Carmine Clarke, Katrin Treloar, Justine Lewis and Anthony Little (one of two Samuels) all performed well. Notable performances are given by Katrin Treloar, with a stunning voice that is given many solos within this show, and John Wilson, who covered his line flub as General Stanley so well that it almost looked deliberate.

The ensemble has a strong sound as a whole which definitely bumps up the chorus numbers – Michelle Hassold and Sue Penhale should be commended for their teaching work here. This group is a mixed bag with some showing little enthusiasm and others throwing themselves fully into their performances. Overall this evens out the group making them an enjoyable cast to watch and listen to. Pam Tucker’s direction serves the show well, not giving us anything we haven’t seen before, which is perfectly fine in the case of such a regularly-performed show.

Hassold’s orchestra starts off a little rocky with some timing issues in the lengthy overture but continued well for the rest of the night without any particularly audible errors. Perhaps this was just a case of finding their feet on opening night.

Special comment must go to the costume and set department who bring colour and life to this show, especially on a very simple stage where little set can be taken on and off. The Act One backdrop is particularly fantastic.

SALOS’ production of The Pirates of Penzance is not going to be the finest version of this show you will see but that is really an unimportant point. Gilbert and Sullivan’s work is packed with fun songs and hilarious dialogue that this cast delivers with enormous amounts of energy and dedication. This production has an infectious charm and energy that is difficult to not get caught up in.

Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio

Venue: Tower Arts Centre
Season: 11th August – 21st August 2016
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Tickets: $11 – $25
Bookings: By telephone only – call Pam on 8294 6582

 

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