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by Dee Adcock
SALISBURY Amateur Operatic Society has taken Pirates to its heart – and its audience did too with this, its ninth production of one of G and S’s best-loved shows. Who can say, as SAOS first staged Pirates of Penzance back in 1909, that this wasn’t the best? I’m sure it outclassed the Pirates of ’87.
The pirates needed only to stand there – wonderfully costumed and in an impressive set – to win applause. And quality revealed itself throughout in a lively show that the audience loved. It was a joy, with the big stage full of movement and colour and some of the most popular G and S songs to relish.
It is a show that allows the best to shine and kindly has room for all the rest. So Lorraine Blakey’s voice was a knockout for Mabel, reaching all the tricky bits that few dare aim for, and comedy queen Sue Crouch stole the show as Ruth. Christian Jull appealed as Frederic, with a pleasant musical theatre singing voice and Roger Ganner was well cast as the pirate king, strong and good-natured.
Chorus performers could pack a punch as pirates and daughters, enhancing the comedy and turning up the power of chorus singing. They were accompanied by a superb orchestra, full of names of distinction in Salisbury. Director David Turner ensured there was never a dull moment, with scenes flowing smoothly and amusing touches from teddy bears to tombstone humour.
Even professional directors must cut their company’s coat according to its membership. It was a risk – frankly – casting Lorraine as young Mabel, luckily the quality of her voice carried it off. But Michael Bowyer sacrificed clarity for speed in his Model Major General song, though his night-gowned dance was a winner with the audience.
This show is famous for its comic policemen – and this constabulary was on top form, led by David Coxon adding a sinister edge with his lugubrious whitened face.