Frederick Aidan Godwin   Mabel Lucy Davey   Director Yvonne Chadwell
Pirate King Lee Power   Edith Clare Allsop   Musical Director Brian D Steel
Major-General Ian Lambert   Kate Alma Griffith   Stage Management Will & Janet Harris
Samuel Danny Woodward   Isobel Pamela Bongkiyung   Sound Dave Korman
Sergeant Jacky Cook   Ruth Pam Akhurst   Lighting Ben Morrison
            Photography James Cook



Thank you very much for inviting me to Wallington Operatic and Dramatic Society's production of the perennial favourite 'The Pirates of Penzance' recently at the Adrian Mann Theatre. Thanks also to your front of house staff for making me welcome at the performance itself.


The pirates of Penzance (a rather tender-hearted band, made up exclusively of orphans and unable to harm anyone of similar background) are celebrating Frederic's coming of age and subsequent release from his apprenticeship to them. He joined the pirates as a child owing to a mistake by Ruth, his nursemaid, who misheard his father's instructions to apprentice him to a pilot. She has remained with Frederic ever since and now harbours a desire to marry him. However, Frederic has met and fallen in love with Mabel whose sisters the pirates have claimed as their future brides. Their father, the General, is horrified at this prospect and declares himself to be an orphan, knowing that this will effect their immediate release. As an ex-pirate, Frederic now feels that his duty is to society and he wastes no time in assembling a police force to capture the pirates. He is, therefore, dismayed when he learns from Ruth and the Pirate King that, due to the fact that his birthday is on 29th February and only occurs once every four years, he has in effect only had five birthdays; the terms of his apprenticeship state that he is bound to the pirates until his 21st birthday. Consequently, feeling that his loyalty is now to the pirates again, he reveals that the General is not really an orphan. The Pirate King is furious that he has been tricked and he plots to capture the General, his daughters and the policemen and take his revenge. This task proves no problem to his band of men until the Sergeant demands that they surrender in the name of Queen Victoria. This is too much for them and they yield to the request. However, as they are about to be taken into custody Ruth reveals that they are not really pirates at all, but noblemen who have gone astray. On hearing this, the General orders their release, restores them to their rightful ranks and offers them his daughters in marriage.


This was my second chance to see a Wallington ODS production and on this occasion it was the perennial favourite 'The Pirates of Penzance' by Gilbert and Sullivan albeit with a Caribbean twist. Having read the programme notes, we knew this wasn't going to be an entirely traditional version of this well-loved classic. It was also an opportunity for Wallington ODS to show off their vocal strength with an operetta.

The set was sufficiently detailed to be interesting. Rocks adorned the stage with a star-cloth to give atmosphere and the band strategically positioned at the rear of the stage. G&S overtures are so long that they now almost demand business during them and I'm glad you took the opportunity to do so. I would have to say that his was not the scariest bunch of pirates that I have ever seen nor were they particularly Caribbean, not a Captain Jack Sparrow in sight. There were some nice touches such as a modern day ship's captain, the holidaymakers and an appearance from Mrs Mop. Later on, references to the Olympics and other topical subjects raised a laugh. The addition of 'The Matter Patter Song' from the Pirates revival as well as giving Edith and Kate an extra song were positives. Maturer cast members are often overlooked and cast to the background or fringes but thankfully not in this production and there were some notable principal performances. However, from the very beginning there were eccentricities in this non-traditional production. A lack of percussion really hampered the cast. I really felt for poor Ruth during her opening big number 'When Frederic Was a Little Lad'. The up-tempo accompaniment was almost unrecognisable and Ruth was struggling to pick up her entries. I'm not a traditionalist by any means but the rhythms and tempos were not an improvement on Sullivan's work and I felt they were indulgent to the detriment of the production. Chorus entries and exits were not in alignment with the band and at times were all over the place. Too often the chorus stood in semi-circles and the ladies in long lines albeit with good posture whilst many principals missed their lighting marks. I know you were short of men but I don't think Samuel should have doubled-up as a policeman. I'd rather not dwell on the negative as I think you get the gist and there were other positives to pick up on. Highlights for me were; 'Climbing Over Rocky Mountains', 'Hail Poetry' (which was stunning), 'When the Foeman Bares His Steel', the 'Finale of Act One', the excellent 'Away, Away! My Heart's on Fire' and finally the equally excellent 'You/We Triumph Now'.

As you can see I did have some concerns over the directional visions of Yvonne Chadwell and equally the Musical direction of Brian D.Steel. The choreography was generally bright and enthusiastic and was carried out satisfactorily by the entire cast. The Lighting plot was satisfactory as was the Sound balance - with good projection, all was well. The costumes were super and every lady looked elegant and the men 'workaday' where necessary.

In the principal roles we had the following performers;

Major General Stanley - Ian Lambert - Ian seemed comfortable on stage and played up to the audience during the patter song in particular. This was an entertaining romp from Ian.

Pirate King - Lee Power - Easily the strongest of the men, Lee showed a confident, calculating King. His open armed stance and fantastic vocal delivery was very well received by the audience and a pleasure to listen to.

Samuel - Danny Woodward - Danny was steely and measured in a role which is not as easy as it seems, vocally in particular but I thought Danny sang very well indeed.

Frederic - Aidan Godwin - A nice performance from Aiden and we were also treated to his 'snake-hips' moves which adorned the newly freed Frederic.

Sergeant of Police - Jacky Cook - More increasingly ladies are chosen to play this role when not set in the original period as such. I thought did well and got to terms with the slapstick approach to the part.

Mabel - Lucy Davey - Lucy was a little more 'TOWIE' than 'Made in Chelsea', however her delivery was suitably playful and her vocals convincing in this leading role.

Edith / Kate / Isabel / Clare Allsop / Alma Griffith / Pamela Bongkiyung - these are three small supporting roles but each put their own characterisation on to their respective roles. All were smiling beautifully and sang nicely, especially Clare. I was glad to see these ladies given the extra Princess Ida song.

Ruth - Pam Akhurst - My heart went out to Pam early own but she overcome these obstacles not of her making to perform as a very effective Ruth.

The souvenir programme was thorough and contained lots of society information as well as quality photos and biogs of the cast.

Once again thank you for inviting me to the Adrian Mann Theatre and best wishes for your next production 'Ticket to Ride'. I looking forward to seeing you again soon and if I can be of any assistance at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me.