Tuesday 6th to Sat 10th March 2012
Palace Theatre, Redditch
- Director – Ian Waddell
- Musical Director – Tom Porter
- Assistant Producer – Joy Vater
- Stage Manager – Ian Dixon
- Rehearsal Pianist – Carol Griffiths
Winner of NODA 2012 Best Production in West Midlands Area
- The Pirate King – David Steele
- Samuel, his Lieutenant – Tony Vater
- Frederic, the Pirate’s Apprentice – Alan Hastings
- Ruth, a maid of all work – Melanie Hart
- Major General Stanley – Tony Jay
- Edith – Harriet Mills
- Isabel – Georgie Roberts
- Kate – Chris Wheeler
- Mabel, the Major’s youngest daughter – Abigail Cole
- Sergeant of Police – Richard Weller
- Queen Victoria – Pearl Taylor
Bursting with Humour
“Bursting with humour and with very strong principals, ABOS (Astwood Bank Operatic Society) left the audience wanting more at the end of this updated two-act Gilbert and Sullivan masterpiece.
Popular both sides of the Atlantic when first performed in the 1880s, 1980s Broadway version was another instant success and ABOS updated it even more. Tiny but inventive gestures, such as the Pirate King applying mascara, a sword fight with the excellent band’s musical director (fielding clarinet) and Ruth blowing when her cutlass failed to swish like the real swords showed a meticulous attention to detail from director Iain Waddell.
Richard Weller as Sergeant of Police and David Steele were outstanding among all the great acting performances with voices to match. Alan Hastings, playing the romantic lead Frederic in only his second ever show, was word-perfect and hopefully we’ll see more of him. His love interest, Mabel (played by Abigail Cole) had a very strong and sweet soprano voice.
Melanie Hart played hard-of-hearing nursemaid/pirate Ruth with great humour and her strong voice filled the theatre.
Tony Jay, playing Major General Stanley, had another wonderful voice which had the audience gasping when he was required to sing at what seemed like 200mph.
Fast-paced and funny, tuneful and talented, ABOS delivered a great evening’s entertainment.“
written for The Redditch Advertiser
Vitality and Great Enthusiasm
“More than a century on since it was first presented, this popular Gilbert and Sullivan work retains an attraction for G&S followers and those less familiar with the ‘duos’ musicality and wit. This interpretation of the 1980 Broadway version had the entire company expressing vitality and great enthusiasm.
Simple, though effective sets provided appropriate scenery throughout the show. An opening chorus of rough and ready strong voiced pirates promised a thoroughly entertaining production as it proved to be.
Frederick – Alan Hastings – in his first major role for the society vocally and artistically performed well displaying immense skill in the opening sword fight with The Pirate King – David Steele, who gave a dashing first class performance with intense energy and gusto in characteristic costume. Samuel – Tony Vater – the admirable swashbuckling hero.
In ‘Climbing over rocky mountains’ ladies, chaperones and maids made their first entrance on stage. Ruth – Melanie Hart – a member of the society for over 20 years in this her first major part gave an assured performance. Mabel – Abigail Cole – was a delight demonstrating vocal skill of the highest standard, supported ably by Edith – Harriet Mills, Isabel – Georgie Roberts and Kate – Chris Wheeler.
Major General Stanley – Tony Jay – commanded the stage from his first entrance with superb diction, looking resplendent in full regalia with ‘I am the very model of a modern major general’ which in this Broadway version includes a repeated verse sung even more quickly, carried off brilliantly.
The whole chorus in ‘Hail Poetry’ delivered a magnificent balance of musical harmony.
Additional comedic interest was provided exceptionally well by the antics of the Sergeant of police – Richard Weller – leading a chorus of police who when finally apprehending the ‘noblemen who had gone wrong’ did so with deference to the ‘Royal Box’ and Queen Victoria – Pearl Taylor – in one of the many inspired touches in the show.
Costumes were characteristic of the period and eminently colourful.
Appealing musicality was provided under the baton of an MD who like many others acquitted themselves in fine style in their respective first leading roles. All contributed towards a wonderful evening for an equally receptive and appreciative audience of which it was a pleasure to be a part.
This was a poignant evening for all in the society and the local amateur theatre fraternity remembering fondly John Forster, who took a full and active part in rehearsals and was looking forward to being on stage. Sadly after a short illness John died on 29th February and will be very much missed by his family and friends.“
Ian G Cox – NODA Regional Representative – Worcestershire East (District 12)
A Modern Classic
“Johnny Depp, The Keystone Cops and shades of Windsor Davies and Dad’s Army made surprising and thoroughly enjoyable appearances at The Palace Theatre when ABOS performed the modern version of this Gilbert and Sullivan classic.
A vibrant band, skilfully choreographed swordfights (one involving the musical director and a clarinet), contemporary humour and supremely competent principals made the two-act romp, playing on those born on February 29th having a birthday only every four years, most enjoyable.
Making his singing debut with ABOS as the Sergeant of Police, Richard Weller’s Windsor Davies-like voice was accompanied by superb comic acting, so good you didn’t take your eyes off him in case you missed something.
Melanie Hart’s rich tones as hard-of-hearing nursemaid Ruth filled the auditorium and she also made the most of her comic moments.
Pirate King David Steele, aka Johnny Depp, combines singing and acting skills in equal measure. The memories of his effortless tenor voice and the image of him touching up his mascara will linger for some time! Tony Vater, playing Samuel, was another impressive pirate.
Alan Hastings, playing Frederic, was a thoroughly convincing naïve and duty-obsessed victim of himself, partnered perfectly by Abigail Cole, playing Mabel and supported by Harriet Mills (Edith) and Chris Wheeler (Kate).
And one could only marvel at the verbal dexterity of Tony Jay, playing Major General Stanley, not missing a note despite rapid speed and his perfect enunciation ensuring you could understand every word.
Great singing, great comedy, great evening.“
Ian G Cox – NODA Regional Representative – Worcestershire East (District 12)by