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The Pirates of Penzance by W.S Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan

Hounslow Light Opera Company

Hampton Hill Theatre - 31 October 2019

The Pirates of Penzance by W.S Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan

Review by Eliza Hall

This talented and popular company, until recently known as Hounslow Light Opera Company, has chosen to change its name to HLO Musical Company. The company says that the new name more readily matches themselves, their long history and more truly reflects what they perform. Indeed it does as we, the audience, were presented with a delightful night of song, dance and recitative of exceptional brilliance.

From the moment the overture began when Lee Dewsnap, musical director and one man orchestra, who had arranged the full score for the company and conductor Matthew Newton sounded out the first of the familiar songs from the show, feet were tapping and the audience were engaged but eagerly anticipating the moment the curtains were lifted.

No one could be disappointed by that first view of the set, the colours, costumes or with the singing of the opening number, set on a rocky cove on the coast of Cornwall. Strong mature voices were joined by the balcony choir and the pounding of the song celebrating the birthday of Frederic, a pirate, but not by choice, who having reached twenty-one years of age was able to end his ties with the pirates.

Kevin Chapman (Frederic), Felicity Morgan (Ruth) and Steve Taylor (Pirate King) set the scene and the story line, explaining the context to the ensuing tale with conviction, humour and strong voices. Delightfully successful harmonies with Felicity’s acting, her persuasive attentions were funny and sad and true to the G&S formula of pathos, the ridiculous and the cajoling of the audience into half believing the impossible. So the story enfolded, every scene a joy to behold. The choreography of the daughters of the Major General, chaperones and maids was clever and gentle. Singing supplemented by the balcony choir allowed for freer movement on stage for those acting, dancing and singing.

Mabel, played by Johanna Chambers, demurely glittered. Her astounding vocal range and strength of vocality along with clear diction, was a delight and she was so easily the seductress that Frederic was seeking. Her talent shone throughout the production and, like Felicity Morgan’s Ruth her voice was the perfect foil to Kevin Chapman’s Frederic.Clever little choreographic details meant the audience was constantly watching for expressions and individual reactions whilst keeping the whole movement and position together as a chorus. As they pointed to the upstage left, awaiting the cue for the entrance of the very model of a modern major general he pussyfooted in, downstage right. Such little, clever devices kept the audience laughing, applauding and attentive as the familiar music and rhythms could so easily have lulled the audience into false securities. For Full Review https://markaspen.com/2019/10/31/pirates-hlo/

HLO Musical Company, Hampton Hill Theatre

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