2014: The Pirates of Penzance

We are grateful to the contributors of the following reviews of our February 2014 production of The Pirates of Penzance, the first of which is from an independent member of the audience, the second from our local NODA representative.

The pace never flagged!

First off I would say I am by no means a Gilbert & Sullivan aficionado or a regular theatre goer, but this was an opening night performance of Pirates of Penzance I would gladly sit through again. For it to be billed as an amateur production does a disservice to everyone involved with the DGASS, from the director, via the performers and orchestra to the set and costume designers who crafted an excellent show. It had vivid colour, was well choreographed and the music, singing and acting were all of a very high (dare I say it, professional) standard.

Everyone involved played their hearts out and the enthusiasm with which they did so was reflected in the appreciation of the audience. Both cast and audience appeared to enjoy themselves immensely throughout (myself included). The pace never flagged, and credit to the orchestra and cast for keeping everything moving along such that attention never once waned.

To sum up, I thought it was a highly enjoyable opening night with excellent performances all round, and I would advise anyone who is partial to Gilbert and Sullivan to attend the Carnegie hall and see this production whilst they can.

Peter Baird

A slick and thoroughly enjoyable production

As one of the founder members of this society I was privileged to be invited to attend this production of one of my favourite G&S operettas.

The curtain rose to reveal the band of raucous pirates singing “Happy birthday to you” to young Frederic who was celebrating his 21st birthday – or so he thought! This unusual opening was only one of the many innovative touches throughout the production.The insertion of the patter song “It really doesn’t matter” from Ruddigore, the appearance of Queen Victoria and the “noblemen who had gone wrong” reverting to peers complete with velvet cloaks and crowns added both humour and freshness. This was a lively production with the chorus of giggling daughters and chaperones, the all-singing all-dancing policemen and the fearsome pirates all acting and interacting meaningfully throughout creating some impressive tableaux as well as some first-class singing. The strength of the choral singing was particularly highlighted in the finale of Act 1 where “Hail Poetry” was wonderful to listen to.

The principal characters too were very well cast and well played and all excelled vocally. Unfortunately Claire Porterfield (Mabel) had lost her singing voice but she acted the part very well indeed while her musical numbers were sung beautifully from the pit by Fiona Main. This arrangement worked very well indeed with the pair working in harmony throughout. Michael McFarlane was very believable and relaxed as Frederic. His duet “Ah must I leave thee here” was sung with great passion and you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. Robert Ozog was a powerful and threatening Pirate King, while George Alexander gave a rousing performance as the Sergeant of Police trying to control his timid but well-drilled police force. I enjoyed Greig Hill’s interpretation of the role of Major-General Stanley, particularly his solo at the start of Act 2 where he showed off his balletic skills! Anne Diack made a grand job of the role of the love-sick Ruth trying desperately to convince Frederic that she was the woman he needed. There were also some lovely cameo characterisations particularly Rae Lamond as Edith, Keri Zaczek as Kate, Sinead Black as Isobel and John Allen as Samuel.

The company on stage was well supported by a well-controlled orchestra, while effective lighting and an attractive set and costumes all enhanced the production. Congratulations to all involved in any way in making this such a slick and thoroughly enjoyable production which was a real pleasure to attend.

Dorothy Johnstone