Tarantarara! The Pirates of Penzance is Another Tabard Musical Hit
Our reviewer Penny Flood loved this production
The little Tabard is doing what it does brilliantly – putting on one of its singing and dancing musical extravaganzas. This time it’s Pirates of Penzance, arguably Gilbert & Sullivan’s wittiest work and certainly their most musical. The Tabard team have put together a cast of 16 extremely talented singers and dancers, fabulous costumes, terrific choreography, lots of silliness and slick direction. It’s SMASHING, as pirates, policemen and pretty girls cavort their way through two hours of rollicking good fun.
It tells the story of Frederic (played with wide eyed innocence by Owen Pullar), who was apprenticed to the pirates when he was a baby and now he’s reached 21 he wants to leave – he doesn’t like being a pirate. But it’s not that easy, the rules state that he can only leave the pirates when he’s had 21 birthdays, which as he was born on the 29 th of February won’t be for another 63 years.
Before the pirate king (Guy Mott) can get him back on the ship, Frederic, who has never seen a girl before, meets a group of teenage sisters dressed in the girliest of girlie pretty dresses and petticoats. Accessorised with twirling polka dot umbrellas and matching sun glasses, their opening number gives a glimpse of the classy choreography to come. Now, he obviously doesn’t want to go back on the pirate ship, and from here the plot goes off in all sorts of directions. At one point Frederic sings a song about being perplexed and he’s not alone in that. But the plot doesn’t really matter, it all comes right in the end - even nanny Ruth (Darrie Gardner) gets a man - just sit back and enjoy it. It’s good to look at, lovely to listen to and very, very funny.
The girl who catches Frederics’s eye is Mabel, the lovely Elsie Bennett, who has a voice so pure and beautiful it just fills the theatre. Her rendering of ‘ Oh Wandering One’ left me breathless and brought me up in goose pimples. Happily you get to enjoys lots of Elsie’s voice as she and Frederic sing a couple of love songs together and she joins in lots of others. Elsie trained at Chiswick’s Art Ed - they must be proud of her.
Mabel and the other girls (Katrina Gibson, Chloe Nicolson, Louise Gookey, Kathryn Rutherford, Charlotte de Paeztron) are the daughters of the Very Modern Major General, played by a magnificently whiskered Roger Parkins, all pomp up front but a coward underneath which causes him to lie to the Pirate King which sets the plot in a new direction, but never mind. His model of major general song is one of a number of highlights of the show.
Another is the thin (and wavy) blue line held by Cornwall’s finest, the Penzance Community Force under the command of a flaky sergeant (Callum Hale). As one of the songs tells us, ‘a Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One’ and that song combined with a high-kicking dance routine is one the funniest things I’ve seen for ages – the image of the coppers bellowing Tarantara! Trarantara! down their walkie talkies will stay with me for a long time.
Pirates and policemen are played by Simeon Oakes, Gareth Mitchell, Benjamin Vivian-Jones, Rossano Canzio and Mark McManus. Full marks have to go to the girls for carrying on singing while slung over the shoulders of the pirates - and full marks to the pirates for not dropping them!
Director Matt Harrison, choreographer/assistant director Lee Greenaway, musical director Andre Refig and designer Christopher Hone deserve praise not just for bring it all together so thrillingly, but doing so within the confines of the Tabard’s space.
The only thing I can find wrong with it is that the finale didn’t last long enough, ‘I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General’ and ‘A Policeman’s Lot’ are great clap along numbers and the audience should have been given the chance to join in, and I really would have like to see the dancing coppers again. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing it all again. It’s on until the 10 th June, don’t miss it.
May 22, 2012