Modern classic had plenty of highlights

By Alison Parkinson Tuesday 24 April 2012 Updated: 24/04 14:52

The Pirates of Penzance (Broadway version)

Astwood Bank Operatic Society

Palace Theatre, Redditch

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 & 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.

Alison Parkinson

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