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Review: Pirates of Penzance at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Tyne Pirates Are A Barrel Of Fun

The Pirates of Penzance
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Until Saturday 26th September 2015

In a drive to return one of the oldest fully working Victorian theatres to its former glory over 60 performers have come together for a cracking show.

Now we have a confession to make. We have never seen a performance of the works by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. If tonight is anything to go by then we are definitely looking forward to our next encounter.

The story begins with a bang as the young apprentice Frederick (Chris Wain) points out to the Pirate King (Michael Geddes) and his Lieutenant Samuel (Dave Rawlings) that he has nearly completed his apprenticeship. He is 21 and he has no plans to continue. The only woman in the band of rogues, Ruth (Enid Gale) hopes to marry the young lad but he wonders what other women are out there.

When they land off the coast of Cornwall they cross paths with the Major General (Gawen Robinson) and his many daughters – in particular Mabel (Louisa Sherlock) who clearly knows she is attractive. Young Frederick leaves piracy and tries to change his life with amusing consequences.

One of the great pleasures of this show is that the strong singing is accompanied by a large fabulous orchestra under the musical direction of Michael Wilmot. The tight performance helped bring about a vibrant feel to the songs. The musicians fill the theatre with great music and take advantage of the natural acoustics of the room

The show is full of familiar songs. I am the very model of a modern Major-General and When a felon's not engaged in his employment are both timeless classics. Their familiarity comes from their use in comedy on television. The clever choreography from Danielle Mendes brings the humour alive.

The show is a large ensemble piece but there are no weak links in this talented cast.  All of the way through the story there is a real sense of fun from camp carry on of the Sergeant of Police (Daniel Vening) to the high speed singing by Major General (Gawen Robinson). The harmonies were delightful and the solos, including the high notes hit by Louisa Sherlock, show the genuine expertise on stage.

The audience had plenty of laughs. This is no stuffy production and clever interactions with the orchestra help to break the fourth wall.  Director Bea Atkinson has ensured that the show is great fun to watch and the time flies by.

The show has real heart and is a pleasure to watch. The fabulous live orchestra coupled with talented singers who are clearly enjoying themselves make this a perfect introduction to Gilbert and Sullivan.

All profits from ticket sales will go directly to the preservation of the iconic Grade-I listed building.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

The Friends of Tyne Theatre and Opera House’s production of The Pirates of Penzance will run from Tuesday 22 September to Saturday 26 September, from 7.30pm each evening.

Tickets: £13 All; Concessions £10: Limited View £8; Buy 10, get 1 free. (plus booking fees when booking online and over the phone)

The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
More information at our Website:

Audience members will also have the opportunity to take part in a pre-performance theatre heritage talk and tour, for which advance booking is required. 


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