front cover of the programme

MUGSS 1995

The Pirates of Penzance



Major-General Stanley...Dave Bolton
The Pirate King...Rob Garson
Samuel (his lieutenant)...Alex Hayes
Frederick(the pirate apprentice...Curtis Dobson
Sergeant of Police...Richard Blight
Mabel...Dawn Furness
Edith...Emma Farrell
Kate...Liz Fearon
Ruth...Sarah Vandevelde
Isobel...Penny Richards


General Stanley's Daughters
Annik Albrecht
Katrina Allen
Kate Buxton
Michelle Chamberlain
Louise Chastney
Abby Crouch
Zoe Dawson
Tessa Dean
Isabelle Denonain
Louisa Ersanilli
Nadia Evans
Emily Feilding
Jo Grace
Sally Huddart
Mynie Jones
Sarah King
Allison MacKenzie
Rachel Markham
Sally McArdle
Carol McKay
Claire Nevin
Tracey Nuttall
Juliet Wattebot O'Brien
Suzanne Onslow
Lindsay O'Reilly
Sarah Pennington
Meena Rattan
Emily Reid
Susanne Shields
Coral Sirett
Emma Skelley
Kate Smith
Katrine Smith
Julia Webb
Lara Welch
Emma-Louise Wyley
Pirates and Police
Phil Ashworth
Matt Baker
James Cameron
Peter Carroll
Steve Clarke
Paul Coley
Edmund Collin
Ron Haselgrove
Matt Holker
Matthew James
Stuart Johnston
Doug Killen
Alasdair King
Paul McWilliam
Kieran Reynolds
David Rolfe
Huw Sanderson
Jim Symcox
Damian Taylor
Keiran Taylor-Thomas
Adam Woodcraft


Chair - Jim Callin Chairman - Allison MacKenzie
Treasurer - Damian Taylor Treasurer - Doug Killen
Secretary - Emily Fielding Secretary - Emma-Louise Wyley
Social Secretary - Penny Richards
Marketing - Julia Webb
Ordinaries - Carol McKay
Caroline Marriott
Alex Hayes


Musical Director: Peter England Director: Nigel Machin
Production Manager: Keiran Taylor-Thomas Designer: Nigel Machin
Lighting Designer: Jim Callin Wardrobe: Allison MacKenzie
Photography: Julia Webb Stage Manager: Caroline Marriott
Mike Harris Deputy Stage Manager: Louise Carson
Asst. Stage Managers: Neil Sims, Rob Brown Ticket Sales: Jim Callin
Costume Team: Coral Sirett, Lucy Wright Lighting Operator: Lauren Crawford
Iona Pickard, Kitty Von Vloten Poster Design: Peter England
Front of House: Una Monaghan, Kate Farmery Accompanist: Mike Harris, Martin Bussey
Frank Stapleton: Miss Tak N.I.D'Un-Titi Advertising: Pete England, Julia Webb
Programme Editor: Pete England Stage Crew: Marcus Tinsley
Keiran Taylor-Thomas Mike Cowperthwaite
Set Construction: Neil Sims Richard Sullivan
James Hook Kate Farmery
Lauren Crawford Susanna Wilding
Andrew Gill Andrew Biggs
Peter Carroll Rick Garner
Phil Ashworth Catherine Robertson
Penny Richards Andrew Gill
Alex Hayes Steph Tinsley
Louisa Ersanilli James Hook
Rob Brown Harriet Mercy
Richard Wozyername et al


The Pirates of Penzance has a number of things going for it no matter what. As one of the most popular of Gilbert & Sullivans' operettas, the society can usually count on slightly more reliable ticket sales. It is also hugely fun to appear in the chorus. There are many Big Numbers (Cat-like Tread for instance) with lots of swashbuckling, comedy marching, swooning over the male lead, the Pirates pouncing upon the Daughters with evil laughs...

However, 1995's Pirates was memorable for far more than that. The show was really quite traditional. It managed to be so memorable for the way in which the directors took the opportunity of a talented cast to push the Society into producing an above-average show.

The first thing to strike the audience must surely have been the set. The normal curtains were supplemented by purple hangings. The overture complete, the hangings rose to reveal the entire male chorus, as Pirates, crewing a majestic Pirate Ship. No static flat this; the entire machine revolved, clearing the depth of the stage by something like six inches, as the Pirates launched in "Pour O Pour.... Motive power was provided from within by a number of the Pirates who would disappear into the innards of the beast to heave it round. The chorus was its hammy self; the principals were notable too. Rob Garson made a wonderful Pirate King; muscular, swarthy, huge of thigh and character, evidently unable to sing anything and perfectly uncaring. Alex Hayes took the opportunity of a director open to new ideas to turn the quiet lieutenant Samuel into an outrageously camp pink flamingo, mincing about the show like some terrible escapee from a drunken cabaret act. Sarah Vandavelde's Ruth showed no fear whatsoever, launching herself from the aftmost platform, some six feet above the bows, into the assembled Pirates. Curtis played Frederick straight, somehow, and managed not to be swamped by the girning around him - a remarkable achievement.

The Pirate Ship zoomed off to Stage Left under its own propulsion, taking the cheering Pirates with it. Frederick and Ruth had boarded a dinghy, which by movement relative to the Pirate Ship was now reaching the shore. Ruth's glorious singing was snatched from us by the arrival of the fabulous female chorus. All bedecked in peach or pink dresses, topped with beribbon and flowery straw hats, they streamed in their dozens - some down ramps from high to the side of the stage - from entrances everywhere. The assemble horde was notable for its girlish enthusiasm - once again the director's instruction that they were to giggle tended to produce cackling from the pits of Hell. The Measure was well and truly Tripped. We also had the privilege to meet the leading three daughters, Edith (Emma Farrell), Kate (Liz Fearon) and Isobel (Penny Richards). The three lead a rampant chorus of girlishness, shrieking at the appearance of the fearsome Frederick. Their fear soon turned to swooning, anguished beating of breasts, and fearsome lechery as Curtis launched into that most lovely of G&S number, the tenor lead solo. The male chorus backstage would gather around the loudspeaker to see if he would get the last few horrendous notes, as the male chorus is wont to do. Whether you believe that this is to lend moral support or gloat over the breaking voice of the romantic hero depends on your charity.

It was time, of course, for the entrance of the delectable (if not demure) Mabel. Dawn Furness has the most amazing voice. Her first year in the society, she arrived late to her first rehearsal and declined interrupt proceedings to join the female chorus. I recall pompously lecturing her on how to tell whether she was a soprano or alto; by the time of the show the MD (Pete England) had written special musical parts for her voice. The audience was not left waiting for its use: the first long note introducing Mabel was sung as she appeared USR on the cliffs rising above the bay and swooped in an alarmingly Wagnerian fashion down the ramp, up SL and off the stage again, maintaining the one high note all the while! She returned to win the hearts of all with quite exquisite, beautiful singing, again adapted for her voice. Their wooing was interrupted, alas, by the complete chaos that ensued with the return of the Pirates to their lair...(to be continued)


The cover shows a ship breasting the waves.
The programme cover

Aboard their pirate ship the Pirates of Penzance mourn the loss of Frederick.

The daughters arrive at the isolated pirate cove.

The pirates return to seize the daughters.

The Major-General (Dave Bolton) attempts to handle a sticky situation with the Pirate King (Rob Garson) as Frederick (Curtis Dobson) and Mabel (Dawn Furness) and the daughters look on.

The pirates celebrate their successful approach to the castle as the policemen hide.

The pirates, policemen and daughters fight it out.

The pirates are triumphant - but not for long!