Pirates of Penzance at UWA’s Dolphin Theatre revive classic comic opera for Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s 70th | Ralph Lauren

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Cast adrift in last year’s COVID doldrums, the Pirates of Penzance come storming back to UWA’s Dolphin Theatre this month with 50-plus musicians and singers to revive the classic Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera.

The tale of brigands and bumbling bobbies in a world of love gone wrong has stood the test of 140 years since the time of Ned Kelly.

This is also the 70th anniversary of the G&S Society of WA, founded in the post-war years by Bernard Manning, a veteran of the original D’Oyly Carte company that premiered the repertoire in London from the late 19th century on.

Spokesman John Michael Swinbank said G&S WA brought together professionals and amateurs under stalwart director Alan Needham.

“This will be a very traditional production because the director is a veteran performer of Gilbert and Sullivan,” Swinbank said.

“He’s done all the shows, all 14 of them. He’s also a very accomplished director of G&S and he’s very traditional.

“But there are always opportunities with some of the songs eg the Modern Major General, which gives scope to update and adapt.

“They were often taking the mickey out of politicians or the pompous or the powerful, so songs like that give an opportunity for a director and a performer to have a go.”

Young guns including soprano Magda Lisek as female love interest Mabel, baritone Theodore Murphy-Jelley as the Pirate King, and mezzo Belinda Cox as Ruth, mix with an experienced cast, chorus and 20-piece orchestra in the sold-out show.

“The G&S Society is more than the Pirates of Penzance,” Swinbank says.

“It’s for everyone. It has incredible effects.

“With Magda, Theo and Belinda, it’s launching their careers, and for Alan, he was the president of the society for its 50th anniversary.”

Luminaries from more than 100 shows over seven decades include Glenys Fowles AM, Sara Macliver, Emma Matthews, Aldo DiToro, Duncan Rock and Gregory Yurisich AM.

Production manager Max Page OAM is a 40-year veteran with the society.

Pirates of Penzance is at the Dolphin Theatre from June 2-12.

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