Gilbert and Sullivan musicals aren't to everyone's taste, and could most definitely do with an injection of a more modern approach. That's what the Courage Performers, a youth group from Wiltshire, are hoping to do.
A "swinging" and "rousing" modern makeover that will hopefully bring this story into the 21st century
They have taken on the classic Pirates of Penzance and (they claim) have given it a "swinging" and "rousing" modern makeover that will hopefully bring this story into the 21st century but still be as swashbuckling as ever!
The story is much the same as the original - following young Frederick the pirate who, upon completing his pirate internship, leaves the pirate life behind, looking for an honest living and a beautiful wife. He finds the girl pretty quickly but soon his shipmates are back to utter the terrible news that as he was born in a leap year he is bound to the crew until the age of 63! Thankfully, the girl promises to wait faithfully and both he and his pirate chums manage to escape the law and come out unscathed.
The cast are sweet enough and clearly love performing. The boys in particular work well together and definitely achieve a kind of youthful Monty Python-esque humour, if just a little underdeveloped. A couple of the boys even have good voices and sing their songs confidently, if a little shakily.
The girls get a harder time with the songs and script and most of what's required of them is "oohing" and "aahing" at the correct time - something that's a long way away from anything modern. Their voices are yet to develop into anything strong as yet and this made almost every lyric they uttered incomprehensible. I wasn't expecting West-End standard but opera-technique still requires projection and breath control so simpering through it seems a slightly disappointing approach.
The music, if we are honest, doesn't stray far from the original and attempts to be "jazzy" fall a little short. In contrast to this, some numbers drag infuriatingly. It feels like a very well-to-do and proper production which throws in jokes about tweeting and twerking because the cast sort of thought they ought to. Most of their comedy actually comes from the cast’s own quirks and traits and not at all from the script. Some of them, it seems, have some real comic timing developing.
This is a nice enough production from a nice enough bunch of young people. And if you, like them, enjoy a modern adaptation that doesn't really push you too far from your frightfully British comfort zone, you may well find it a delightful way to spend 70 minutes.