The Pirates of Penzance

The Pirates of Penzance
By Gilbert and Sullivan. Mosman Musical Society. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. April 21 – 29, 2023

Staging The Pirates of Penzance is always a good choice, especially after a couple of bloody tough years in the community. Gilbert and Sullivan's 1879 comic opera is just fun. The music is timeless, the comedy is ever present and it never fails to make the audience have a good belly laugh, no matter how many times they’ve seen it. The Zenith Theatre is great to perch up high with snacks from the candy bar (or something stronger) and look down on the action. 

Set on a bare stage with a beach backdrop amongst some rocks, we find Frederic (Hannah Reid), a young man of 21, celebrating the end of his apprenticeship onboard a pirate ship. He is ready for a non piratey respectable life sans said pirates, which the Pirate King (Clare Gerber) believes is anything but honest. Frederick still farewells his comrades to find love upon the shore with the (very model of a modern ) Major General Stanley’s (Jake Nelson) daughter Mabel (Bridget Patterson). Fast forward through some clever wordplay, numerous buckets of humour, romance and a catchy soundtrack and you’ve had a fun night out in Chatswood. 

Lisa Frisina’s choreography is simple and effective, allowing for everyone to master it and step in time. 

This show also has a tweaked arrangement. Musical Director Jim Coyle has curated a rockier feel to the soundtrack and I’ve never seen someone have so much fun leading the orchestra as this MD. I was glad when he climbed the stage and could be applauded. Coyle’s enthusiasm was so catchy, the cast and MD played together as a team, clearly enjoying every moment as they performed alongside one another. 

There was plenty of local talent on show, all the way down to the most junior cast member, Officer Matilda Munt.  

Mabel’s coloratura is competently handled by Patterson. Ried, as Frederic (possibly singing in a lower register), handled the challenge well, creating a very comfortable, confident Pirate come suitor. Nelson was very comical as Major General Stanley and garnered plenty of well-deserved laughs. Staunch Pirate Samuel (Daniel Kramer) had a powerful presence with impressive vocals and The Pirate King’s right hand man. Hammy Nanny Ruth responsible for the whole foul up that ended up with Frederic being indentured as a Pirate, was more than capably handled by Susie Blackwell. The daughters were all a delight and pirates wonderfully wicked, but the comical timing and ultra-expressive facials of The Pirate King (dare I say Queen) stole the show. What a performance. 

Well done Jody Rose, Susan Boyle, Alex Cotton and the whole Mosman Musical Society team on a wonderfully enjoyable experience. This audience certainly appreciated a drop your worries at the door, night out. Yarrr! 

Nicole Smith

Photographer: Dani Hansen

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