This show was swashbuckling fun from start to finish. Pirates is always a winner with audiences and the Broadway Version gave director Ken Robertson-Scott, a former member of D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, the opportunity to make everything larger than life.
Musical director John Dempster also rose to that challenge, taking the orchestra at a furious pace through the big numbers. And the singing was superb.
The only things that let this production down were some rather chaotic ensemble scenes, particularly those involving the pirates and police, and some less than menacing swordplay.
But for all that, there was plenty to applaud, most notably the soloists and the comic moments, including Jevan McAuley’s (Frederic’s) hip-swivelling Elvis impersonation on meeting the Major-Generals daughters.
This was the third time that Michael Bowyer has played the Major-General for the society and it was another great performance. His safari shorts and tunic, medals, moustache and pit helment were a masterstroke and he carried off the song I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General with brilliant comic timing. Jevan McAuley and Georgina Taylor, as Mabel, sang beautifully throughout. Jevan has a wonderfully clear delivery and Georgina’s sweet soprano voice was spellbinding in Sorry Her Lot. She made the complex trills in Poor Wondering One appear effortless. Kate Sheppard, as Ruth, and Christian Jull, as a Johnny Depp-style Pirate King acquitted themselves well, and the pirate ship made an excellent backdrop in Act One.
Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are about great music and fine voices and the society’s centenary year production of Pirates has both. What was most noticeable was that all those involved were genuinely enjoying themselves and that has to be good for the society’s future.
Southern Daily Echo
by Rebecca Welsh
The well known G&S, performed by Salisbury Amateur Operatic Society to celebrate their centenary wouldn’t disappoint those first performers 100 years ago, nor did it today.
The direction created the distinct groups of rough and ready pirates, frothy daughters and bumbling policemen, with humorous touches throughout the galloping performance.
Frederic (Jevan McAuley) made his debut on stage and was fantastic in the role. His love match, Mabel (Georgina Taylor) sang beautifully and wowed the audience with her range. Leading the pirates (Christian Jull) gave us good characterisation, with more than a touch of Jack Sparrow and led a merry dance, literally and metaphorically. The Major General (Michael Bowyer) added to the comedy with some nice visual touches. The cast made excellent use of the stage and space and the show was visually pleasing, with some lovely choreography and tableaux.
Accompanied by the superb band directed by John Dempster, and with appropriate set and costumes, the show was a tribute to the company’s skill.
Alec J Ruddick NODA Regional Representative, SW Area District 10
This is one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best loved operettas, and I am sure they would have been delighted with this presentation as much as I was.
The twelve piece orchestra under musical director John Dempster was melodious, well balanced and beautifully under control.
The chorus singing and acting was as good as ever and there was an enthusiasm from everyone that was as almost breathtaking.
Costumes and scenery could not be faulted and lighting and sound very well controlled. Christian Jull made a boisterous Pirate King, full of energy and with a good singing voice. Michael Bowyer was in his element as the Major General. His diction was extremely good, especially in the very fast verse of “I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General”. The contrast between that and his gentle singing of “Sighing Softly to the River” was most impressive. Jevan McAuley was a young, handsome Frederic with a very fine singing voice and also proved to be a very competent actor. What a fabulous singing voice Georgina Taylor has. She was delightful as Mabel. Her cadenza at the end of “Poor Wandering One” was astounding. Truly the best Mabel I have ever heard. I loved the energy put into the Sergeant of Police by David Coxon and his Policemen were a hoot. Kate Sheppard made a great Ruth. Her Cornish accent was well maintained and her acting was extremely good. All the other members of the cast portrayed their parts well, making this a great success.
Director and choreographer Ken Robertson-Scott has a great team to work with and used them well. This was a great production for your Centenary.