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Posts Tagged ‘pirates’

Part of the 2014 Gilbert and Sullivan Festival on tour, The Pirates of Penzance is the first of three productions by the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company being performed at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

The story concerns a young man named Frederic, who having reached the age of 21, is released from his apprenticeship as a pirate.  No sooner is he free, than he meets and falls instantly in love with Mabel, the daughter of a Major General, but circumstances conspire to keep Frederic under the employ of the hapless band of pirates, and also to keep him and Mabel apart.

G&S operas are not meant to be taken too seriously, and the great comedy and uplifting music meant that I was smiling and laughing throughout.  Nick Allen was lovely as Frederic, the lovelorn young man who is torn between Mabel and his duty to the pirates.  John Savournin, who also directed, was wonderful as the dashing pirate king, and Richard Gauntlett was simply hilarious as the Major General – his song, I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General was a particular highlight.

Excellent performances too from Bruce Graham as the ineffective Chief of Police, Elinor Moran as Mabel, and Sylvia Clarke as Ruth – Frederic’s former nursemaid and wannabee girlfriend.

The whole cast sang beautifully, whether in solo or group numbers, and the production hit just the right note (no pun intended) – it was funny and satirical, but never just plain stupid.  Fantastic colourful costumes and scenery added to the enjoyable experience.

This was the first G&S play I had ever seen, and I don’t think I could have had a better introduction to their comic operas.  The Festival is touring, and I recommend anyone to catch them while you can.

(For more information about this production, or the 2014 Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, please click here.)

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This is chronologically the first book in the Hornblower series, but was not the first one which Forester wrote, and so it (presumably) serves as a prequel of sorts.  I wanted to read the Hornblower series, and decided to start with this one, where we first meet Hornblower, at the tender age of 17.  It is the late 1700s, and he is a nervous new recruit to the British Navy.

The book is more of a collection of short stories, rather than a novel.  Each story presents Hornblower with a new dilemma, from having to stand up to a bully (which he does – and how!), dealing with enemy ships from Spain, or transporting a Duchess home across the sea.  Hornblower matures throughout the book, and learns some tough lessons.

I enjoyed the book a lot, although I think that some knowledge of a ship’s structure would have helped when reading this, as there are lots of references to how a ship is built and manned.  However, I could usually understand enough of the jargon to workout exactly what character was doing what task, and in any event, the character of Hornblower himself was enough to keep me reading.

Somewhat stiff and awkward, and not always the most socially confident, but with a strong moral backbone and plenty of courage, I really warmed to the young Hornblower, and enjoyed reading about his adventures.  There were some other interesting characters along the way, and some moments of humour, as well as some sadder events which were described with little emotion.

Overall, while some parts of the book felt somewhat dry, I liked the main character enough to look forward to reading other books in the series.

(For more information about C.S. Forester, please click here.)

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This 1948 MGM musical teamed up Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, who had displayed such on-screen chemistry in For Me And My Gal (and who went on to work together again).  The pairing certainly worked – perhaps never better than in this film.

Garland is Manuela, a young Spanish girl, whose hand in marriage her family have promised to Don Pedro, the mayor of their small town.  However, Manula has always dreamed about infamous pirate Macoco.  When Serafin (Gene Kelly) arrives in town with his travelling stage show, he meets and falls for Manuela, and pretends that he is in fact Macoco, in order to win her affection.

This film is flamboyant, colourful and in many ways, completely over-the-top – and it is incredible fun to watch.  The stars themselves seem to revel in their roles; they’re melodramatic and intense, and it just works so well.  I was laughing all the way through – the funniest scene for me was when Manuela and Serafin have an argument – the action is terrific and hilarious.

Many people say this was Gene Kelly’s sexiest role – and he certainly makes the most of it.  His tight fitting outfits show off his amazing physique, and at one part he wears some short shorts which (excuse me being shallow for a moment) really show off his incredible thighs!  Additionally, Kelly does an amazing pole dance – yes, you read that right – near the beginning of the film.   There are plenty of other fine dance numbers including Kelly’s dance with the Nicholas brothers, and Kelly and Garland performing Be A Clown; and a terrific Cole Porter score (Judy performing ‘Mack The Black’ is a real treat).

This is a real treat to watch – definitely recommended!

Year of release: 1948

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Writers: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, S.N. Behrman, Joseph Than

Main cast: Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Gladys Cooper, Walter Slezak

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