Crew flies the Jolly Roger

Jeannie Saxton as Edith, Denis Morrell as the Sgt of Police and Andrea Ryder as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance staged by Dronfield Light Opera Group.
Jeannie Saxton as Edith, Denis Morrell as the Sgt of Police and Andrea Ryder as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance staged by Dronfield Light Opera Group.

Is the House of Lords populated by a band of pirates? Is that is the real reason behind the Deputy Prime Minister’s vain desire to reform the constitution?

A reference to Nick Clegg’s dislike of peers woven into a story of noblemen gone bad is cheeky, but very clever and highly comical.

While our scuppered second-in-command politician steers the Good Ship Britannia through choppy waters, there’s no such problem for the crew of Dronfield Light Opera Group.

This merry band of performers are going from strength to strength, judging by their 40th anniversary production of The Pirates of Penzance this week.

Inventive, colourful and heaps of fun, the show sparkles like a treasure chest of jewels plundered from the rich.

It’s the neat touches by director Andrea Powell that set this Piratical production apart from those that have sailed before.

Gems include the lead character using a calculator to work out his real age in leap year terms, a gatepost gargoyle which swivels to check out the performers, teenage girls playing pirates and a couple of females in the police line-up.

An imaginative opening, which I won’t by spoil for those who have yet to see it, sees the pirates sailing up Chesterfield canal - very clever in the wake of Chesterfield G&S’s production of the same work this month.

The quirky launch also name checks Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp.

Dronfield’s answer to the stars casts Finbar O’Donovan in the role of apprentice pirate Frederic, Andrea Ryder as sweetheart Mabel and Gavin Ward as The Pirate King.

Like all amateur groups, Dronfield is suffering from a shortage of young men. While long-serving Finbar O’Donovan may possess the vocal credentials and considerable experience in lead roles to play the 21-year-old principal character, his own coming of age celebration must be a distant memory.

His opposite number, Andrea Ryder, charms the audience with her outstanding singing and confident acting in a peerless performance.

Gavin Ward makes a swashbuckling Pirate King, risking life and limb as his accident-prone character leaps on and off pieces of scenery.

In her role as Ruth, the pirate’s maid, Janice O’ Donovan adds colour and comedy to this lively show.

Jeannie Saxton ups the comedy factor of the piece in her role as Edith, one of Major-General Stanley’s bumper brood of daughters. She’s flirty, fun and looks like she is going to fly off the stage as she jumps around waving her hanky like a propellor in time to the policeman’s chorus of Tarantara.

Resembling a colonial commander with shades of Scout supremo, Roger Hart is decked out in shorts for his role as Major General Stanley and it’s he that delivers the funniest line of the show - about Nick Clegg disliking peers.

The cast is accompanied by two pianists, musical director Karen Cook and Ann Singleton, whose sensitive accompaniment avoids drowning out any of the much-loved songs.

Pirates of Penzance continues its voyage at Dronfield Civic Hall on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20. There’s still a few seats available; contact 01246 416364 or email