Tarantara Tarantara! The song the Sergeant of Police, Todd Keys sings with his ‘lads’ all donned in English policeman garb was going around in my head on the way to the carpark! I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Pirates of Penzance!
Written by WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan this show was first performed in 1879 and is still as much fun now as I’m sure it was then, however, don’t expect a rockin’ out Jon English musical, this is the original comic opera version performed by Opera Australia.
The gorgeous mood-enhancing lighting by designer, Trudy Dalgleish is complemented by a minimalist set designed by Richard Roberts, which has a raked stage, framed by lights and a calm backdrop, with clouds intermittently projected onto it. The actors themselves play a part in the set, wheeling on large props. They roll trees and statues onto the stage, that look like pop-art, cardboard cartoons – but it works! Although inauthentic these props really add to the kitsch-ness of the production and makes for a jolly ol’ time.
Opera Australia headed up by the ever-entertaining Anthony Warlow will have some of the younger audience members thinking he is ‘channeling’ the ultimate Pirate King, Johnny Depp from the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films. In fact the program cover looks very similar to Johnny Depp on the cover of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl’. With due credit though, Warlow is very funny and frolics and rollicks around the stage leading his enthusiastic and sometimes camp gaggle of pirates.
Dainty blonde Mabel is played by Rosemarie Harris and the charming, endearing Frederic played by Matthew Robinson is extremely well cast and this couple are matched well though don’t produce fireworks.
There are some definite highlights which are a hoot, one being when the cluster of ‘daughters’ are approached by Frederic and they shuffle about the stage as a huddle of white lace and boaters and then threaten him with their lace parasols. Their father, the Major-General Stanley, played by the amazing Peter Carroll, is hilarious and sings the famous tongue-twisting “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” song to a wild applause, this number is definitely one of the stand-outs in the show.
With an energetic, mischievous cast and dynamic numbers, topped off by massive cartoon roses framing the set at the end this is an absolute hoot of a show – A comic, hearty opera for the whole family!
Emma Bell is writer, reviewer and interviewer and can be found at www.emmabell.com.au