Pirates of Penzance - performed November 1988

By Gilbert and Sullivan

Performed with the kind permission of Music Theatre International

Director -


(in order of appearance)

Major General Stanley Dave Turrell
Pirate King Bernie Brindley
Samuel Bill Chapman
Frederic Duncan Steel
Sergeant of Police Adrian Bolton
Mabel Cathy O'Neill
Edith Heather Steel
Kate Alison Brett
Isabel Hilary Robinson
Ruth Brenda Chapman
Wards & Chaperones Lesley Butcher
Allison Hawkins
Jill Laurie
Gill Baxter
Lynn Brindley
Marion Harvey
Pirates Bert Yeates
Stewart Loring
Chris Mason
Oliver Smith
Dennis Murfitt
Terry Cousins
Police Bill Embley
David Sexton
Chris Meade
Oliver Smith
Stuart Loring

Production Team

Val Taylor, Viv Wheatley, Jude Hussey, Jenny Rollings, Val Williams, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Peggy Barber, Dennis Murfitt, Greg Garrad, Jack Hacon, Bill Chapman, Alison Brett, Allison Hawkins, Heather Steel, Jenny Glayzer, Tracey Amoss, Patience Ling, Viv Wheatley, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Musical

In The Pirates of Penzance, the young pirate apprentice Frederic is about to be freed from his indentured period. The honourable Frederic, who was mistakenly apprenticed to the pirates by his partially deaf nursemaid Ruth, has decided to leave the pirate life. Now a free man, Frederic leaves for the shore. Frederic, who has never seen a woman besides Ruth, instantly falls in love with Mabel, one of the daughters of Major-General Stanley. Soon though, the pirates arrive and want to marry the rest of Major-General Stanley's daughters. Major-General Stanley enlists the help of the police to stop the pirates. Frederic desires to help Major-General Stanley and the police protect the ladies, but soon he discovers that due to a technicality, he is still bound by duty to remain an apprentice to the pirates. All is well in the end when it is discovered that the pirates have noble blood and would in fact be suitable husbands for Major-General Stanley's daughters.


Dennis Murfitt, that unabashed trawler in every reach of theatrical waters, has come up with a resounding – and I choose the word advisedly – success in this cheerfully tongue-in-cheek voyage through one of the most popular of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Using every lasting inch of the tiny stage with its composite, all-purpose set of cannon-bristling schooner and ruined chapel, he peoples the levels with a colourful array of characters that, individually or collectively, give out a rich, full-throated resonance to fill the auditorium with wave after wave of pleasurable sound. Bruce Emeny’s splendid lighting suffuses clever costumes with rainbow hues and Patience Ling on piano and Greg Garrad on percussion, lead and follow with sympathetic understanding as well as high technical ability.


Bernie Brindley’s left-handed Pirate King swashes and buckles with great glee and gusto in a towering performance, enhanced by swaggering presence and striking good looks and Bill Chapman makes him an effective lieutenant as Samuel Duncan Steel, the “slave of duty” is handsome, fresh-faced and full of good intent as the Pirate apprentice, Frederic, and if the voice complies with the modern pre-occupation with nasality and strangulated delivery at the expense of melodic quality, he is very much a follower of fashion.
Cathy O’Neill as his light-of-love, Mabel, coos coyly, flutters her eye-lashes ever so winsomely and flutes away to devastating effect in all her songs. Poor Wand’ring One is a joy to look at and listen to. Dave Turrell ingeniously avoiding the uniform problem by solar-topee and white mufti, dodders and wobbles his hilarious way through Major General Stanley and is precisely the model of the character guaranteed to bring the house down.
Adrian Bolton, red-nosed and moustachioed, is living proof that A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One – especially against his backing posse which is very funny indeed. All the girls, dainty in their pantalettes and sashes, prattle prettily as they send up the defence of their honour with parasols at the ready. Brenda Chapman’s spurned Ruth has plenty of style, especially in her latterday breeches and kinky boots.
Jimmy James

I find is quite astonishing that a group of amateurs can stage such a breathtaking show as this spectacular production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta. Some years back, I was at another of the Manningtree-based group’s plays when the person sitting beside me, on discovering I was a journalist, took great delight in suggesting that, as I had a free ticket, I would not give a poor review.
Well I would, as another group could testify, but in more than ten years the Manifest has never given a poor performance. Two plays, I admit, I did not particularly like but the acting and presentation could not be faulted. Now they have taken “proper” singing, and how! With no trained voices among the, give or take a couple of choristers, the 25-strong cast almost raised the roof of the one-time school building with an apparently word-perfect performance.

There were times, with everyone on stage, the audience could be forgiven for worrying the flooring of the tiny theatre might give way as the cast romped its way through the swashbuckling yarn. Produced and directed by Dennis Murfitt, the story had comedy, romance and drama. With everyone pulling their weight to would be wrong to single out any stars but perhaps the bouquets on this occasion should go to the two musicians – Patience Ling and Greg Garrad, who were working for most of the 90-minute performance. It was the first of the Manifest’s productions for the 1988-89 season and, now they have proved there is nothing they will not tackle, their faithful followers will already be looking forward to February.
Lesley Pallett

Photo Shoot

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