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Review Pirates of Penzance, West Norfolk Gilbert & Sullivan Society, St George's Guildhall

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It seems quite a while since WNG&S have trod the boards. A couple of years in fact (Ruddigore) so it was good to see them back.

The pandemic has not been without cost. Society stalwart Trevor Ridley, a production and stage manager for many year, died from Covid a little over a year ago.

But the society returned with one of the most popular of WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's comic operettas, The Pirates of Penzance last night at the start of a three-day run.

West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Pirates of Penzance cast (54682094)
West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Pirates of Penzance cast (54682094)

This tells the usual topsy-turvy tale of Frederic (Anil Chakrabarti) who owing to an unfortunate error by his hard-of-hearing nurse maid Ruth (Julie Bjerrgegaard) is apprenticed until his 21st birthday to be a pirate instead of a pilot, and is thus a Slave of Duty (as the subsidiary title has it) to The Pirate King (Peter Walters). He falls in love with Mabel (Ellie Haim), one of a great many daughters of Major-General Stanley (Andy Hiles) ... but the path of true love never runs true as the Sergeant of Police (Steve Scales) and his men is sent to apprehend the brigands.

Will it all end well? Of course, it will. And along the way we get to hear such favourites as the 'patter' song, I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General" (always a potential tongue-twister, so well done Andy) and the song known by most as A Policeman's Lot Is Not A Happy One.

Mr Chakrabarti and Miss Haim were very strong principals delivering with conviction, clarity and comic sensibility. Miss Haim, of course, is always an asset to any production but her Frederic held her own.

Well done to the always excellent Julie Bjerrgegaard and musical director Richard Winch and his quintet.

There were some first night nerves, the occasional mishap and the sound seemed a little off a times, but generally a triumphant return to the stage for WNG&S.

The Pirates of Penzance is on tonight and tomorrow with a matinee also tomorrow. Tickets from the Corn Exchange box office, 01553 764864.

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