Swashbuckling romp from in-form pirates

By Sue Lupton

Friday, October 19, 2012


Swashbuckling romp from in-form pirates

From back left, Gabriella Rae with Thea Callaghan, Andrew Woodford, Ashleigh Mackness, Tom Chard, Libby Pike, Ben Spurling and Paul Stevens with Harley Mackness at the front.

STAGE REVIEWTHE Pirates of Penzance, one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s funniest shows, was given a lively treatment by the Island Savoyards last week.

Comic-opera fans who flocked to Shanklin Theatre were rewarded with an evening of swashbuckling, farcical fun.

The producer/director role was shared by Sheelah Stephens and Anthony Wright, who had assembled a strong cast.

Stars of the show were Andrew Woodford and Ashleigh Mackness. The pair had the perfect combination of youthful good looks and great voices for the lead roles of Frederic and Mabel.

Apprentice pirate Frederic, having reached the age of 21, wants to go straight. When the pirate band encounters a bevy of beautiful maidens, Frederic falls in love at first sight with the lovely Mabel.

Another brilliant performance came from Michael Arnell, who had the audience in stitches with his camped-up depiction of Maj Gen Stanley, father of Mabel and the other beauties.

More laughter was generated by the gangly Ben Spurling, who brought slapstick silliness to the role of the police sergeant.

Paul Stevens as the pirate king and Libby Pike as Frederic’s man-eating nursemaid were also terrific, particularly in the scene when they gleefully reveal that Frederic cannot leave the pirates after all. He was born on February 29 in a leap year and is therefore only five years old, not 21. From Modern Major General to The Policeman’s Song, the show bursts with great tunes, delivered with gusto by the chorus.

Musical director Jane Pelham and choreographers Ashleigh Mackness and Anthony Wright had done an excellent job.

Congratulations are due to the Island Savoyards, who showed why The Pirates of Penzance has been one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular and successful works for more than 130 years.

Reporter: suel@iwcpmail.co.uk

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