The Derby Bach Choir sings HMS Pinafore,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
I must admit, I'm not the world's biggest Gilbert and Sullivan fan. Maybe I've just seen too many third rate productions in which the dead hand of D'Oyly Carte convention squeezed the life out of them.
But this was fun, with Derby Bach Choir stepping right out of their normal territory for a fully staged and costumed performance of HMS Pinafore (Derby Grammar School, Derby, UK, 7 July 2007). The set was simplicity itself -- a mast, a flagpole and a few ropes back centre and a couple of cut-out cannons at the front. And that was all Lorna Dexter's production needed. What little space there was, was well used: Buttercup, and Sir Joseph Porter and his slightly dotty female entourage, entered through the audience, and there was plenty of movement on stage.
The solo parts were gamefully taken by members of the choir -- David Parry's sniffy Sir Joseph, Paul Marshall's slightly worried Captain, Richard Roddis (the choir's conductor) a bumptious Ralph Rackstraw, Gillian von Fragstein a sparky Josephine, Jill Dickin warmly sympathetic as Buttercup, with David Rymer's lugubrious Dick Deadeye. The chorus rose collectively to what for many was a completely new experience, with only pianist Peter Gould's one-man orchestra to hold everything together. The sheer verve of the whole show made the odd moment of shaky ensemble seem completely insignificant.
As I said earlier, I've seen plenty of more elaborate Gilbert and Sullivan stagings which bored the pants off me. This had 'cheap and cheerful' written all over it. But what the hell -- it worked a treat.
Copyright © 11 July 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
DERBY BACH CHOIR