Rallying call to young pirates

LEADING LIGHTS: Rachael Louisa-Bray plays Mabel and Andrew Moore is Frederic in The PIrates of Penzance
LEADING LIGHTS: Rachael Louisa-Bray plays Mabel and Andrew Moore is Frederic in The PIrates of Penzance

Performers are ensuring the survival of Gilbert and Sullivan works by involving young people in a show which is accessible to children.

Performers are ensuring the survival of Gilbert and Sullivan works by involving young people in a show which is accessible to children.

Chesterfield Gilbert and Sullivan have chosen Pirates of Penzance for their autumn production at the Pomegranate Theatre.

Jo Howland, who is directing the company for the first time, said: “It is extremely important for G&S in the long term that young people understand what G&S is all about.

“Pirates is a very good one to introduce young people to as their first G&S experience. I think out of all the G&S shows this is the one that is the most fun - it is almost pantomime. It’s very easy to follow with very visual and very obvious comedy. There are lots of opportunities to have fun and be extremely silly - we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Among the crew of performers are teenagers LIzzie Blades, Laura Watkin, Rob Henderson, Phil Jacques and Doug Shipstone. Rob and Doug were in last year’s production of The Mikado. Doug will play the lead role in Bakewell Lady Manners’ School production of Jesus Chris Superstar in November.

Teenage dancers Ellen Wilders, Ella Street, Ellie MacLeay, Chloe Hall, Lydia Palmer-Coole and Emilie Andrews, who are students to the Catherine Shepherd School of Dance, will also be put through their paces during the show.

Retired doctor Phil Aldred, who is playing the Major General for the second time with the company, said: “It is very difficult to attract teenagers to G&S because the humour is dated. But for those who enjoy Gilbert’s clever language and Sullivan’s music, it is a fantastic experience.”

Fellow performer David Stokes said: “Pirates is one of the most popular G&S for people to see. Hopefully all the youngsters will enjoy it.”

Playing the sergeant of police is a dream come true for David, who lives in Bakewell. “This is my third time of trying for the role,” he said. “There aren’t so many men here now so there wasn’t much competition.”

Assistant finance manager Julie Currey of Grangewood, Chesterfield, plays Edith, one of the Major General’s daughters. She said: “I am one of the sisters - we are all a bit silly, a bit excitable. The show is fun with some well-known songs.”