We must admit, it was with slight reservation that we took our seats for the opening night of the Waterfront Theatre School presented The Pirates of Penzance at the Artscape Theatre.
Promoted as a production that gives "students ... the opportunity to work outside their contemporary comfort zones and push the limits in terms of style and scale" we were ready to be underwhelmed, because the idea of students outside their comfort zones made us have high school production flashbacks.
Cautiously optimistic we noted "Mmm ... live music in the pit". The warm and fuzzy musical mating call warm-up sounds from the chamber orchestra nder the musical direction of Jaco Griessel made us feel that facing the cold and wet to get to the much loved Artscape Theatre may not have been in vain...
As the curtain went up and the performance started our icy guard melted from "not too bad" to "wow, nice dance moves" and at times, uncontrollable giggles. The standout performances definitely came from Ryan Arnold as the Pirate King and Nathan Kruger as Major General Stanley.
These two certainly grabbed our attention and if this was their "out of comfort zone" performances, we look forward to seeing them grow from students to award-winning performers over the next few years... we will be watching, you boys!
Every good Gilbert and Sullivan musical must feature a nubile maiden, and this one has not just one but ten of the most fair faced young ladies we’ve seen. Megan Spencer as the demure but determined Mabel Stanley has quite the vocal range, and though she may at times have eclipsed Arnold, it’s an aural and visual experience you need to see for sure.
While the set design by Deon Bischoff was simplistic, it proved to be effective and is perfectly complimented by Delia Sainsbury‘s era appropriate costumes, considering all of the physical and musical action taking place before it.
Although the music from the pit may have over powered some of the other solo performances at times, the choir-like chorus numbers were absolutely beautiful. We definitely saw some 'Pitch Perfect the Musical' potential in those amazing harmonies. The comical antics of the tapping constables also made up for any words that may have been slightly swallowed or over played.
In the end we left the theatre happily surprised and entertained.
So, what are our top five reasons to see The Pirates of Penzance?
1) A very fun introduction to future musical stars Ryan Arnold and Nathan Kruger.
2) Meeting one of the original cougars, the 47-year-old Ruth (failing horribly yet very entertainingly at) wooing the 21-year-old Frederick.
3) Seeing the Gilbert and Sullivan inspired take on Gangnam style.
4) Having "Modern Major General" stuck in your head as an earworm for at least 3 days.
5) Because if you’re going to hide away from the miserable weather, it might as well be in the hearty bosom of the Artscape Theatre, laughing yourself warm with the enjoyable antics of the energetic young cast.
If you are in the mood for typical Gilbert and Sullivan silliness, then The Pirates of Penzance showing at the Artscape Theatre until 6 June is definitely an option. Tickets at R110, available at Computicket.