Essgee’s Pirates of Penzance

Essgee’s Pirates of Penzance

By W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Additional material by Melvyn Morrow. Directed by Lisa Laurino. Gibney Hall, Trinity College, Perth, WA. May 10-12, 2018

Perth’s Trinity College is renowned for its excellent choirs and music program, but it has not produced a musical since 1995. With Pirates of Penzance it has relaunched its school production with a bang.

As audiences approached Trinity College, they couldn’t help but notice an animated projection promoting the show on a building - part of a fully immersive experience. The approach to the hall was well decorated and theming extended through the foyer into the auditorium and even into the restrooms. Gibney Hall is pushed to the next level with a stage extension and stadium seating.

Playing the Essgee version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates (based on the 1994 Simon Gallaher/Jon English production), the style is camp, larger than life, less than subtle and lots of fun.

A large cast means that the stage is full to the brim with pirates, all in fine voice and highly focused.

The Pirate King is played with purple panted panache by Kosta Paraskov, a very confident and polished performance.

Declan Allen is a lovely leading man as Frederic, bringing an earnest devotion to duty in an impossible situation. He works beautifully with Sophie Hamer, a sweet-faced gorgeously voiced Mabel.

Jayda D’Agostino steals scenes as Ruth - and I cannot imagine a better performance in this role by a 15 year old. Roberto Iazzi is strong as second-in command pirate, Samuel.

Jeremy Hansen is the very model of a modern Major General, with a lovely broad-stroke performance, with Patrick O'Donoghue a lovely, lanky Police Sergeant with laudable low tones.

Essgees’ sisters rock out more than the traditional version, and a dozen young ladies (borrowed from sister school Mercedes and other schools) bring fine fettle and pizazz to these roles.

The team of police are the best I have seen outside a professional production with ten true baritones who also dance very well. Choreographer Paula Nicoletto has created innovative dances throughout.

‘With Cat-like tread’ was a highlight, as were interactions with Musical Director/Conductor Doctor Robert Braham who led an 18 piece orchestra of students and community members. Some lovely ‘improvisations’ were in play, and the audience loved the use of a zip-line.

Fun was had with costumes, with the sisters’ be-ribboned sneakers and Ruth’s pirate attire particularly striking. While it is de rigueur to have a kilted pirate - the use of Trinity’s tartan was a great touch.

Pirates of Penzance was an explosive production that augers well for the continuation of Musical Theatre at Trinity. A top-notch school production.

Kimberley Shaw

Photography by Clements and the Fox.