Sasha Regan’s must-see, all-male production of The Pirates of Penzance is set to appear at the Theatre Royal from Monday 27th April to Saturday 2nd May. Originally staged at London’s tiny Union Theatre, this praised production went on to play packed runs at Wilton’s Music Hall and the Hackney Empire, before heading to Australia for a major tour. Now, the fresh and exquisitely funny re-imagining of Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved, swash-buckling operetta sets sail around the UK visiting Bath on its first British tour.
“As brilliant and heretical as Matthew Bourne’s vision of Swan Lake” – WhatsOnStage ★★★★★
Fast and funny and packed with wit and musical excellence, this is the tale of young Frederic, apprenticed in error to a band of tender-hearted, orphaned pirates exploring the coastline in search of treasure and romance. His plans to marry the beauteous Mabel are thrown into disarray when it is discovered he was born in a leap year on 29th February, so won’t come of age until he is 84!
A classic musical comedy about mistaken identity, pirates, policemen, romance and the demands of duty, The Pirates of Penzance first opened in 1879 and was an immediate triumph for Gilbert and Sullivan, remaining their most successful collaboration and a favourite with audiences to this day. The most topsy-turvy of all Gilbert’s plots is complemented wonderfully by Sullivan’s ever-popular and sparkling score, including the favourite songs I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General and Poor Wand’ring One.
“Riotously inventive… Should leave you grinning like a Jolly Roger” – The Times ★★★★
Following the phenomenon which was Matthew Bourne’s all-male Swan Lake and Propeller’s all-male productions of Shakespearean classics, this thrilling staging of The Pirates of Penzance has grown from humble beginnings playing to 50 people under a railway arch at the Union Theatre in Southwark in 2009. After winning the award for Best Off-West End production, it enjoyed a six-week run at the historic Wilton’s Music Hall in London, followed by runs at Kingston’s Rose Theatre and London’s Hackney Empire. In 2012 the show toured to Australia, selling out in Adelaide and Cate Blanchett’s Sydney Theatre, where it played the main house for three-weeks.
“A delight from start to finish… Magnificent proof – if any is needed – of the astounding resilience of G and S” – Daily Telegraph ★★★★
Led by Olivier Award-winner Miles Western as the Major General, the cast also features Alan Richardson as Mabel, Samuel Nunn as Frederic, Alex Weatherhill as Ruth, James Waud as Sergeant of Police, Michael Burgen as Samuel, Ben Irish as Edith, Dale Page as Kate, Richard Russell Edwards as Connie and Chris Theo-Cook as Isabel. The ensemble company is completed by Joel Elferink, Joseph Houston, William Whelton, Matt Jolly, Tommy Knapp, Liam Lakin and Thomas Henson.
The Pirates of Penzance is directed by Sasha Regan, who for 15 years has been Artistic Director of The Union Theatre, where directing credits include Sweeney Todd, Iolanthe, HMS Pinafore, Whistle Down the Wind, Cabaret and Love Story. It is choreographed by Lizzi Gee, whose recent work includes the BAFTA award-winning film Pride, the UK tour of Annie Get Your Gun, A Winter’s Tale for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Rocket to the Moon at the National Theatre. Lizzi is currently working on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas for Chichester Festival Theatre. Musical direction is by David Griffiths with design by Robyn Wilson Owen and lighting design by Jack Weir.
This 2015 revival of The Pirates of Penzance falls in the 15th Anniversary year for The Union Theatre, a year which will also see the theatre transfer to a brand new, purpose-built, 100-seat space across the road in Southwark. The Union Theatre has developed an extraordinary reputation for reimagining musicals, and is becoming known for its all-male productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, with HMS Pinafore also being re-imagined in 2013 to great acclaim.
W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance first opened in New York on 31 December 1879 at the 5th Avenue Theatre, marking the only time that a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera had its premiere in a city other than London. In December 1879, Sullivan wrote a letter to his mother about the new opera, upon which he was hard at work in New York. “I think it will be a great success, for it is exquisitely funny, and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching”. The show was an immediate hit and today it remains one of the most popular and enduring works of musical theatre. The two men constantly updated the piece with satirical, political and social references and Sasha Regan’s extraordinary production adds another delicious twist to this classic.
The Pirates of Penzance tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 27th April to Saturday 2nd May. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk