King of the stage

HE may be a rollicking Pirate King today but Mike Spriggs actually started his musical theatre career with a very different role.

For although he may not look the type, the Chesterfield amateur theatre favourite insists his first stage role – back when he was a pupil at the town’s Grammar School – was as Mabel, the feisty heroine of The Pirates of Penzance.

Unlikely casting perhaps but it was a part that was to give him a lifelong love of the work of Victorian favourites Gilbert and Sullivan.

“I was only 15 at the time – and I’ve never played the heroine again!” he laughs.

He did, however, go on to become a founder member of Chesterfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society and now he is taking his passion for the Savoy Operas to Sheffield.

Mike will be making his second appearance for Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society in their 40th anniversary revival of The Pirates of Penzance, which runs at Sheffield University Drama Studio from April 17 to 21.

Needless to say, it’s not virginal Mabel he’ll be playing this time but the rather more roguish Pirate King, a part perhaps more suited to his years!

“I’ve actually played the part twice before but every time it’s a fresh challenge,” he says.

“And if you’re playing a part for a new company you’re playing it with a new company of actors so you are bound to find something new in it because there are fresh people to react to.

“I’m trying to put some of my own character into the performnce. I think he’s quite a benevolent Pirate King - this is a man who can’t even hurt orphans!”

There’s a lot of piracy about at the moment, of course, with films like the Pirates of The Caribbean series attracting massive audiences to the cinema.

“I will definitely not be channeling Johnny Depp!” Mike laughs. “There will be no dreadlocks for me, though there be a curly wig.”

The Pirates of Penzance runs at Sheffield University Drama Studio from April 17 to 21, after which Mike returns to a more familiar role as director of his own company, Peak Performance, who are at the Pomegranate Theatre in June with Broadway classic Oklahoma.

And straight after that the company’s junior section Peak Youth take over with The Dracula Rock Show.

Tickets for The Pirates of Penzance are available now on (01246) 416364.