The Pirates of Penzance
Paul Johnson | 04 Oct 2011 01:34am
A survey released this week showed England to be the least patriotic country in the whole of Europe but they obviously did not take into account the audience at the Churchill Theatre on the 20th April; with half the stalls humming along from the very first bars of the overture it felt like the last night of the proms rather than the opening night of The Pirates of Penzance! It says an enormous amount for the production that not even the boisterous slightly off-key singing of my neighbour could dampen my enjoyment of the evening! The undisputable star of the performance was the choreographer, with routines that were both slick as an ensemble piece but which showed incredible attention to detail making space for individual characterisation. The ghostlike drifting of the police constables under the conducting truncheon of the Sergeant (a commanding performance by Bruce Graham) was hysterical whilst the complex routine for “I am the very model of a modern major general” was so ingenious that it threatened to upstage Barry Clark’s performance had he not already won us over with his sunbathing escapades during the overture. In fact the chorus’ performances threatened to overwhelm the principals’ performances on more than one occasion in particular the charming facial expressions of Edith (Victoria Ward) and the other daughters of the general and the powerful baritone voice of Michael Kerry as Samuel. Katy Batho was a wonderfully fierce Mabel and managed to combine effortless scales with comic timing to great effect opposite a strong performance by Stephen Brown as Frederic; my only quibble being that at times they were both drowned out by the orchestra (and my neighbour!). The weak link in this production was Paul Nicholas who was almost swallowed up by the boisterous chorus in Pirate King and who even with a microphone sounded less than impressive. Some brilliant comic timing was lost amid uncertain singing, corpsing and ad-libs. This was however a thoroughly entertaining evening as a beautiful set, colourful costumes and some captivating performances definitely left me hoping for a quick burst of God Save the Queen from the Orchestra, the spirit of England is definitely still alive in Bromley!
- : admin
- : 20/04/2010