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Newbury Musical Theatre Society - Pirates of Penzance

30th October to 1st November 2014

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Rollicking band of bikers

Newbury Music Theatre Society update G&S comic opera

Newbury Music Theatre Society: The Pirates of Penzance, at Trinity School, Newbury from Thursday, October 30 to Saturday, November 1

Although pretty-well steeped in traditional G&S, I have no problem with societies updating - as long as the new version is as good as the original. Did Newbury Musical Theatre's production of The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Debbi Ledwith, with Neil Streeter in charge of music, work?

Here, The Pirates were a biker gang, a fine rumbustious band. Singing or acting, you couldn't have a better Pirate King than Martin Rogers, and Shaun Blake threw himself exuberantly into the role of Samuel. The jolly roar of the group's singing was accompanied by slick, accurate moves - well done lads.

Young Frederic (Sam Prentice) started off hesitantly, but soon got into his stride, revealing that he has a good, strong voice and a promising acting ability which will improve as he gains experience.

Kate Izzard's powerful voice successfully achieved the musical acrobatics required of Mabel in Poor Wandering One, but I particularly enjoyed her wistful Stay Frederic Stay duet with Sam Prentice.

Another delight were the girls playing Major Stanley's daughters. Hollie Coghlan, Lucie Dale, Eloise Trumper, Anna Neary, Sarah Preston and Lucy Fitt were superb, not only with their cohesive actions and singing, but also in the development of their individual characters. Stars all round, girls.

Add the mellifluous voice of Paul Hyde (Major General Stanley), Jez Mann, an American cop-like Sergeant, and Chrissy Quirke as Ruth (unfortunately beset by early miking difficulties) and there was much that was good.

However, Pirates is a show that demands young people, so invariably older members are cast as governesses. But it is not enough to bring on these experienced actors, loaded with too much impedimenta and stand them in a row at the back. More imaginative production was needed here. In the second half, the governesses became policemen, but sadly the comedy, after the first visual impact, was not slick enough to be successful.

Access to the Trinity hall is tortuous and has particular problems for those with mobility difficulties. Rather than small notices, it would have been friendlier to position more people along the way from the car park to welcome the audience, as well as being on hand to help overcome specific problems.

I am always pleased when a society chooses G&S and to see it performed with good young actor/singers obviously enjoying themselves is satisfying. Overall, however, NMTS can do better and I look forward to their next production.