THERE was a chorus of “hello gorgeous” as Alan Richardson stepped on the stage of the Canberra Theatre today heavily corseted for the part of Mabel.It can hardly be a new experience for him. This production of “The Pirates of Penzance” by director Sasha Regan has been a smash hit wherever it’s been, and that’s mostly because all the roles are played by men.
This afternoon it was time to match the movements to the dimensions of the Canberra Theatre stage before an evening performance at 7:30pm.
While there was evidently a fair bit of testosterone around as athletic and energetic young clean-shaven pirates leapt around stage of the Canberra Theatre, you’d be wrong if you thought that Richardson and his opposite number Matthew Ghent playing Frederic, were about to send up the more delicately romantic scenes in WS Gilbert’s book.
On the contrary, Frederick and Mabel’s love ballad was rendered in delicate, high-pitched voices with not a skerrick of satire. As the director says, “People forget that you have two men falling in love and they totally and utterly believe that Mabel and Frederick are just a couple falling in love on-stage.”It’s a great way of reinvigorating adult Gilbert and Sullivan warhorse, and, Canberra Theatre staff are thrilled to say, this is the company’s first port of call on its Australian tour.
“I was trying to think of a way to bring it up to date,” Regan says of her all male cast concept. “I think that there’s a danger that the Gilbert and Sullivan’s become museum pieces.”
You can say that again.
“The Pirates of Penzance,” at the Canberra Theatre, October 10-13. Bookings to 6275 2700 or visit canberraticketing.com.au
Performance Times: Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm and a matinee on Saturday at 2pm.