By W.S Gilbert & A. Sullivan


Our Pirates started with a slow motion battle (in silhouette, to the music of Away, Away) between the pirates and one of their potential victims. Sadly the Pirates proved to be rather worse at fighting than their intended victims, and were thoroughly thrashed, leaving them prostrate on the beach, where the show proper started.

This was a most untraditional production, with hints of Treasure Island in a blind Samuel, a constant source of trepidation for the rest of the pirates as he couldn't really see very much at all through his eye-patches, and insisted on wielding his sword with great flourishes at every opportunity, resulting in the rest of the pirates cowering into the corners of the set whenever it looked like he was about to move! Eventually, he was completely bound up with bandages, which proved a considerable relief to the rest of the cast. Add to this our own Kevin Kline look-alike as the badly battered, accident-prone Pirate King, and a Ruth who emerged from her middle-aged chrysalis to become a butterfly of alarming sexual innuendo! Add to that a bevy of beautiful (but frustrated) maidens, and not a virgin among them, and you can imagine the terrifying prospect our handsome pirate apprentice Frederick had to put up with - other cast members were prepared to bribe the casting committee for this part!

Between the acts, John Tomala and his assistant came onto the stage wearing overalls and hard hats, erected a sign saying 'G&S Builders – Ruined Chapels A Speciality', then proceeded to build a ruined chapel out of ‘bricks’ made out of painted cardboard boxes. This resulted in a set for the second act which despite being very effective, was extremely precarious, as bits could fall apart at any moment, and in fact looked different every night, as the sequence of putting the chapel together was never written down!

It was probably the best cast we had assembled, with no fewer than four members of the chorus having played the role of the Major General in previous productions. And if you've never seen Oh, is there not one maiden breast performed à la Elvis Presley, you've never lived! Copies of the video sold like hot cakes!



The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, is a comic opera in two acts. Its official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on 31 December 1879, where the show was well-received by both audiences and critics. Its London debut was on 3 April 1880, at the Opera Comique, where it ran for a very successful 363 performances.