Review: Sasha Regan’s All Male The Pirates of Penzance, Palace Theatre

Sasha Regan’s All Male The Pirates of Penzance proves a feast for ears and the eyes in a glorious but short at the Palace Theatre

“Here, in this our rocky den,
Far away from mortal men”

There’s a beautiful sense of homecoming to the return of Gilbert & Sullivan to the West End, even if its only for a weekend. The Palace Theatre was founded by Richard D’Oyly Carte as The Royal English Opera House in 1891 and opened with Sir Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe so the arrival there of Sasha Regan’s All Male The Pirates of Penzance could hardly be more apposite and turned out to be a real festive treat. 

We don’t see much operetta around these days but Regan’s commitment to the cause has been admirable. It’s over a decade now since she first reinvigorated the form with this production (previously reviewed here and here), and working her way through the G&S catalogue (for my money, Iolanthe is the best), transfers, national tours and even international tours are a testament both to the enduring quality of the material and the frisson that comes from this method of interpretation.  Continue reading “Review: Sasha Regan’s All Male The Pirates of Penzance, Palace Theatre”

Sasha Regan’s All Male ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ cast announced, plus second date in the West End

Sasha Regan’s All Male The Pirates of Penzance cast announced, plus second date in the West End confirmed

Nimax Theatres have added a second night for Sasha Regan’s all-male take on W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.  The show will now run on Saturday 12th December and Sunday 13th December 2020 at 7:00pm.  

The production was meant to open at Wilton’s Music Hall and then tour but those plans have had to be cancelled and postponed respectively. For the uninitiated, Regan’s reinvigoration of this classic is a corker, I’ve seen it a couple of times now over the years and it never fails to delight. Continue reading “Sasha Regan’s All Male ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ cast announced, plus second date in the West End”

Review: Sasha Regan’s All Male Mikado, Richmond

(c) Scott Rylander

“They are not young ladies…”

If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Sasha Regan alighted on a winning formula with her stripped-back all-male takes on Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas and has toured the likes of The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore the length and breadth of the country and even to Australia. So it is little surprise to see her turn to The Mikado (or The Town of Titipu) to see if lightning can strike again with joyous shout and ringing cheer.

The production is set in the grounds of a 1950s-ish school camping trip, a canny move which neatly sidesteps some of the Orientalism issues and refocuses G+S’s satire on the English political establishment. And with the score for solo piano confidently played by musical director Richard Baker, the harmonious meld of the 16-strong company sounds like a dream, and don’t look half bad either delivering Holly Hughes’ effervescent choreography. Continue reading “Review: Sasha Regan’s All Male Mikado, Richmond”

CD Review: Words Shared With Friends

“I’m not a man who finds gestures of affection the natural thing to do”

Over the past decade or so, writer and lyricist Robert Gould has worked with a wide range of composers from across the globe and amassed quite the contact list of performer friends, so the progression to recording a collection of his songs feels like a natural one. Words Shared With Friends thus takes in collaborations from the USA to Sweden and Israel, with excerpts from eight different shows and some stand-along songs, and features a roll-call of exciting musical theatre talent including the likes of Laura Pitt-Pulford, Kit Orton, Joe Sterling and Rebecca Trehearn. 

The 16 numbers range from impassioned musical theatre to straight up pop-rock songs and through the diversity, it is the British composers who shine most. Sarah Galbraith and Kit Orton duet gorgeously on ‘I Cannot Lose You’, a newly written song from Orton’s own My Land’s Shore; Joe Sterling breezes through the effortlessly perfect pop of ’Reasons’ from the self-penned Roundabout; and Ben Stott captures the bruised fragility of Ben Messenger’s ‘Here It Comes Again’, a ruefully beautiful ballad of self-reflection and resignation.  Continue reading “CD Review: Words Shared With Friends”

Review: Seussical the Musical, Arts Theatre

“Oh, the thinks you can think!
Any thinker who thinks
Can come up with a few!”

Much of the charm of many festive shows comes from their innate familiarity – childhood pantomimes, the ever-present Dickens, the ageless music of The Nutcracker – but in an increasingly global cultural world, other shows are attempting to crack the family market at this potentially lucrative time of year for theatres. Seussical the Musical is one such show, returning to the Arts Theatre after a run last Christmas and though the world of Dr Seuss may not have quite the same purchase here as it does in the US, its appeal is undeniable.

Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ musical premiered on Broadway in 2000 but it is the ‘Theatre for Young Audiences’ version that Sell A Door Theatre Company have brought to the UK, a tale suitable for all ages woven together from a number of Dr Seuss’ stories. So the famous Cat in the Hat is there, introducing us to the weirdly wonderful way in which language is used in this world, and we soon get sucked into the adventures of Horton Hears A Who, as a kindly elephant tries to save a tiny world that exists on a speck of dust. Continue reading “Review: Seussical the Musical, Arts Theatre”

Review: Sasha Regan’s All Male HMS Pinafore, Union Theatre

“We’re sober, sober men and true”

The Union’s all male productions of Gilbert and Sullivan has become a reliable institution on the theatrical calendar and this year is no exception with their revival of HMS Pinafore (Or The Lass That Loved A Sailor) which they last delivered back in 2007. This interpretation starts off onboard a ship in the 1940s as a group of young sailors are killing time on their bunkbeds. As one strikes up a tune on his handy recorder, so the show slides into place as a little amusement for these men and it’s a neat way of subtly justifying the all-male conceit, with makeshift costumes just thrown together from whatever is at hand, playing up the inventive feel of the whole enterprise.

And with Regan’s sure hand at the tiller, Lizzi Gee’s choreography sweeping across the deck and Chris Mundy’s nimble fingers billowing the musical sails, it makes for a successful voyage across the Southwark seas. The playfulness of the concept makes for guileless pleasures – the nifty twist of a neckerchief turns a sailor into a sister (or a cousin, or an aunt) and Gee makes the most of the ensemble’s physicality with routines based around skipping ropes and press-ups, and the interlocking movements of different groups is beautifully realised using the sheer simplicity of Ryan Dawson-Laight’s design. Continue reading “Review: Sasha Regan’s All Male HMS Pinafore, Union Theatre”

Review: Honk!, Tabard

“Did you leave him in the egg too long?”

Two years ago, the Tabard Theatre revived Stiles and Drewe’s Just So for their festive show and it is to these composers that they return in 2012 with this production of Honk! A musical adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Ugly Duckling, it follows the fortunes of a duckling, cruelly nicknamed Ugly by all around him save his mother, who looks different to the other ducks in the yard. When he ends up lost, frightened and alone, he is forced to make a personal odyssey but even as he is constantly threatened by a voracious cat and scary big humans, he also finds that there’s a big wide world outside of the barnyard where others are not quite so quick to judge.

The score is one of Stiles and Drewe’s most accomplished and lyrically, it has a deceptive simplicity which allows for layers of interpretation making it an ideal family show. Joe Sterling’s nerdish Ugly goes on a powerful journey of self-discovery – characterised by moving renditions of songs like ‘Different’ and ‘Lost’ – even before his revelatory transformation; Kathryn Rutherford’s compassionate Ida is a beautiful study in maternal determination; and even in the unlikely pairing of a cat and a chicken as flatmates, there’s a lovely message of tolerance, especially when it is performed with such show-stealing verve as by Kate Scott and Lydia Grant. Continue reading “Review: Honk!, Tabard”