The Pirates of Penzance
West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society
King’s Lynn Arts Centre
The show must go on ... and it triumphantly did on Wednesday at the first night of the latest offering from West Norfolk G&S despite one of the major players being hit with laryngitis.
Julie Bjerregaard, who was playing Ruth, was unable to sing, so she performed on staged and mimed to words provided off stage by Amanda Arterton.
In many years of am-dram reviewing I had never seen such a thing attempted. Certainly not in such a main role. It was a little distracting at first but plaudits to both Julie and Amanda ... the miming was definitely an improvement on what they served up on Top of the Pops! It was hoped she would be ‘back as herself’ for the rest of the run
That aside this really was a very polished production with excellent performances throughout.
Set on the Cornish coast, the tale tells of how Frederic (Laurence Panter) reaches his 21st birthday and is thus able to leave the employ of the Pirate King (Anil Chakrabarti) and his band of cut-throats after completing his apprenticeship as a pirate. Spurning his long-time admirer Ruth (upon discovering after a lifetime at sea without seeing a woman that she is not as attractive as she claimed) he is wowed by Mabel (Sharon Cutworth), one of a bevy of beauties who are the wards of Major-General Stanley (John Torr).
Twists and turns ensue in the usual G&S tale of topsy-turveydom culminating in a moonlight confrontation between the forces of law and order, led by Sergeant of Police Andrew Masterson and the pirates, who have come to claim (in a rather non-PC way, it has to be said) the other wards.
Director Andrew Nicklin does a great job in keeping the pace up throughout, so important in G&S which is essentially farce set to amazing music.
Lawrence Panter and Sharon Cutworth were very strong as Frederic and Mabel with Katie Hargreaves also first class in the role of Edith. Anil Chakrabarti stole the show with his Captain Jack Sparrow impersonation for the Pirate King.
The musical highlight of Pirates is always I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General which John torr pulled off with aplomb but I thought Andrew Masterson came close with When A Felon’s Not Engaged In His Employment (A Policeman’s lot Is Not A Happy One).
A good night performed in front of a well-filled house. The words of William Gilbert and the music of Arthur Sullivan continue to shine through the years and no doubt will do so for ever more.
The show is on until Saturday night, 7.30pm.