Pirates of Penzance

Pirates of Penzance28th April - 2nd May 2009

The Pirates of Penzance is probably the most popular of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas. Well known favourites such as “Modern Major General”. “A Policeman’s Lot”, and “Pirate King” are found in a seaside romp full of pirates, police and maidens. If you enjoy Peter Pan you will like this show which revolves around Frederic, a pirate apprentice who cannot grow up since he was born on leap year day. His desire for the beautiful Mabel is tempered only by his need to discharge his duty to the Pirate band.

Tangos, Sambas and Rumbas

For this production of Pirates, our musical director, Brian D Steel, completely rewrote the score, introducing rhythms and styles from in and around the Caribbean, to adapt the show to Yvonne Chadwell's lively production which was set on a tropical island, rather than a Cornish beach! Brian explains how his musical arrangements came about in this article, which he originally wrote as a preface to the show programme.

What the Noda Rep Said

The following letter was received from our Noda Rep, Jose Harrison:


May 8th, 2009.

Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for inviting Stuart and I to “The Pirates of Penzance last week. We always enjoy your productions so much and it is lovely to come and see you all again and be made to feel so welcome.

This was a real treat from start to finish, well sung, colourfully costumed with an orchestra which complemented every number. The new orchestration by Brian was a winner as far as I was concerned and I loved the opening. Yvonne always has such great ideas. I particularly enjoyed the little touches she introduced into all the ensemble numbers adding to the amusement without distraction.

Mark was very energetic as Frederic with a very pleasing singing voice and Kevin was totally convincing as the show stopping Pirate King. Siobhan sang and acted excellently as Mabel and Judi’s performance as Ruth was delightful in the way she handled the comedy opportunities. All the cast performed and sang really well so the stage was alive and vibrant from start to finish.

If you were a G & S traditionalist you might well have failed to enjoy this production. If however you just love the “Pirates of Penzance” you could have come to every performance and still seen things you missed the previous times and love every minute of it yet again. It was great.

Yours sincerely,


Jose Harrison.
Noda Rep. Dist. 9.

What the Papers Said

The following review was printed in the West Sussex County Times, on Friday, 15 May 2009:

Pirates of Penzance - Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society - The Capitol

THIS is one of the most popular comic operas composed by Gilbert and Sullivan and some might feel that it did not need to change one dot.

Yet, Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society took the bold step of re-writing the whole score through the talented pen of Brian Steel and embellishing the show with their own quirky moments to provide something very unexpected and completely different.

From Penzance we were transported onto a rocky Caribbean beach to jazzed up rhythms, with touches of calypso and samba, where the life of craggy pirates is thrown into chaos by the arrival of the Major General and his motley collection of marriageable daughters.

What the new score does not do is undermine the impact of how an absurd storyline is manipulated by the genius of G&S to produce cutting satire and the poking of fun at class, officialdom, the peerage and even the police. And that is what people enjoy most.

The HAODS cast of 31 tackled the new experience with great verve and a real sense of fun. The scenery created by Ann Jennings was excellent and once again the costumes department came up trumps. Both male and female choruses were in fine fettle, the dancing and movement well co- ordinated, whilst from amidst the cavorting and cacophony of the continuous action emerged no fewer than six very impressive individual performances.

Mark Freeman as the rebellious Frederic, the high note singing of Siobhan McMahon, Pirate King Kevin Summers, the excellent Judi Weaver as Ruth, and the imposing presences of Major General Adrian Taylor and Sergeant Stephen Gadd. It is rare to have two stars in a show, to have six was some achievement. There was great support from the whole team including Katy Kinsella, making her Horsham debut, Alison Shapley, Charlotte Taylor and Gus Quintero-Fryatt.

The big songs were handled with great confidence. The powerful chorus at the conclusion of act one was full of richness whilst the three trios performed by Weaver, Freeman and Summers in the second act were of a very high order.

Traditionalists may not quickly accept such tinkering with revered G & S formats, however HAODS, director Yvonne Chadwell and musical director Brian Steel deserve full marks for their daring and originality.

David Briffett, for the West Sussex County Times