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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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