Winchelsea Singers are once again putting on their autumn show. This year their producer, Charlotte Beecroft, has chosen The Pirates of Penzance (or The Slave of Duty). This has proved to be one of the most popular of the Savoy operas, and is as silly and frothy and enjoyable as any of them.
As so often in these operettas, the story is based upon a misunderstanding and the ensuing confusion. Suffice to say, that Ruth,who is hard of hearing, has had Frederick, to whom she was nanny, apprenticed to a pirate , rather than to a pilot. Frederick thinks that, now he is twenty one years old, he will have finished his apprenticeship and can cease his piratical ways and marry his sweetheart. However, the pirate king points out that because Frederick’s birthday is on February 29, he is actually only five and a little bit and will not be released from his indentures for many years! Add to that an elderly Major General who protests that he is an orphan and therefore will not be harmed by the pirates who never hurt orphans, some beautiful songs, some great humour and you have a recipe for an enjoyable evening.
Many readers will have had the pleasure of hearing the lovely lyrical tenor voice of Gary Marriot (Frederick) and the equally sublime soprano voice of Lesley Moore (Mabel). Richard Moore brings exactly the right touch to his part as the Pirate King, with a good strong voice and a great sense of fun. Brenda Courtenay plays the part of Ruth, Frederick’s nanny, and you would have to go a long way to hear a finer contralto voice. Kerry Gentleman very ably plays the part of Sam, one of the pirates. A great stage presence and a fine voice. Why haven’t we seen more of Kerry in the past?
Maybe one of the most well known songs in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, “A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One”, is given its required silliness and the good bass voice of David Holloway. I play the part of the Major General and modesty forbids! If I can get through to the end of the fiendish patter song then I will be a happy Major General!
The whole is very capably held together by the conductor Duncan Reid and Winchelsea Singers are lucky in once again securing the twinkling fingers of Ivora Rees on piano. Carol Scoines, who is also wardrobe mistress, and Rosemarie Roberts, two stalwart members of Winchelsea Singers, are just right as the slightly giggly daughters of General Stanley. Last and most certainly not least, is Sharon Sellens. Playing a daughter and a policeman, she brings a really lovely comedic touch to her performance.
There are two performances-: Friday November 16 at 2pm and Saturday November 17 at 7pm at Winchelsea Village Hall. Plenty of on street parking. Do come!
Image Credits: Winchelsea Singers.