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Gilbert & Sullivan’s - ‘The Pirates of Penzance’

Arts Theatre, UNE – May/June 2000

Stage Direction by Mike Gibson
Musical Direction by Wayne Elliott
Produced by Donna Wainohu

Music by Arthur Sullivan. Orchestration by Peter Murray. Lyrics and libretto by William S. Gilbert. By arrangement with Warner/Chappell Music.


Our story begins as Frederic, a young man with an unswerving sense of duty, is about to reach his 21st birthday and conclude his long apprenticeship to the infamous Pirates of Penzance. His good-hearted but hard-of-hearing nursemaid Ruth reveals that she has made a most disastrous mistake. When Frederic was just a boy she misunderstood her employer's directive and apprenticed him to a pirate instead of a pilot, as intended. Frederic tells the Pirate King (a dashing figure who never preys on orphans since he himself has had the misfortune to be one) that his freedom will be devoted to exterminating all pirates and that it would be better for the pirates to leave before midnight when his indentures are over. The pirates depart immediately and Frederic is left alone with Ruth, the only woman he has seen in years. Ruth pleads with Frederic to take her with him, but her case is lost when a bevy of very young, attractive women appear.

Frederic appeals to the girls to overlook his pirate apparel and his past profession, but no one will listen until the beauteous Mabel appears. Frederic and Mabel fall in love instantly. The pirates return and, struck by the maidens' innocence and availability, each seizes the future bride of his choice. Mabel warns them that their actions will not go unpunished since her father, the guardian of all of these young ladies, holds the exalted rank of Major-General. The pirates are unimpressed by this distinction and the Major-General is forced to pretend that he is also an orphan in order to win their sympathy. Although he fools the Pirate King, the Major-General cannot rest easy with his troubled conscience.

Meanwhile, Frederic is launching an attack on the pirates with the cowardly assistance of the police. But Ruth and the Pirate King interrupt him with a most ingenious paradox - Frederic was born in leap year on the 29th of February and, in terms of actual birthdays, is only 5 (and a quarter) instead of 21. Frederic, slave of duty that he is, rejoins his former associates, and the police are left to attack the pirates on their own.

The Pirates seize the Major-General and the police are quickly defeated. But the Sergeant of Police charges them to yield "in Queen Victoria's name" and the pirates cannot resist this overpowering appeal.

Ruth then reveals that the pirates are actually "noblemen who have gone wrong". Each pirate gains a wife and Mabel and Frederic are happily united forever with the unqualified blessings of the Major-General.


Act 1

‘Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry’ - Pirate King, Samuel, Frederic and pirates
‘When Frederic was a little lad’ - Ruth
‘Oh, better far to live and die’ - Pirate King and pirates
‘Oh, false one, you have deceived me!’ - Ruth and Frederic
‘Climbing over rocky mountain’ - Edith, Kate and daughters
‘Stop, ladies, pray!’ - Frederic and daughters
‘Oh, is there not one maiden breast’ - Frederic and daughters
‘Poor wandering one’ - Mabel and daughters
‘What ought we to do?’ - Edith, Kate and daughters
‘How beautiful blue the sky’ - Mabel. Frederic and daughters
‘Stay, we must not lose our senses’ - Frederic, daughters and pirates
‘Hold, monsters!’ - Mabel, Samuel, Major-General, daughters and pirates
‘I am the very model of a modern Major-General’ - Major-General and ensemble
‘Oh, men of dark and dismal fate’ - Ensemble

Act 2

‘Oh, dry the glistening tear’ - Mabel and daughters
‘Then Frederic’ - Major-General and Frederic
‘When the foeman bares his steel’ - Sergeant, Mabel, police and daughters
‘Now for the pirates' lair!’ - Frederic, Pirate King and Ruth
‘When you had left our pirate fold’ - Ruth, Frederic and Pirate King
‘Away, away! My heart's on fire’ - Ruth, Pirate King and Frederic
‘All is prepared’ - Mabel and Frederic
‘Stay, Frederic, stay!’ - Mabel and Frederic
‘No, I am brave’ - Mabel, Sergeant and police
‘When a felon's not engaged in his employment’ - Sergeant and police
‘A rollicking band of pirates we pirates’ - Sergeant and police
‘With cat-like tread, upon our prey we steal’ – Samuel, pirates and police
‘Hush, hush! Not a word’ – Frederic, pirates, police and Major-General
‘Sighing softly to the river’ - Major-General and Ensemble
‘Finale’ - Ensemble


Three years ago when I suggested that the Musical Society perform Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe" here in Armidale it was considered somewhat of a risky proposition. Not only did I want to revive a nineteenth century art form which was considered by some as suitable only for school musical productions but I wanted to perform it at the UNE Arts Theatre rather than the Town Hall, our traditional performance venue. Fortunately "Iolanthe" was well received, the Arts theatre became our new 'home' and so after a two year break from the grind of directing I volunteered to do "Pirates" in the year 2000.

In the early 1980's I had the immense pleasure seeing the New York Shakespeare Festival revival of this wonderful show performed in Sydney with Dennis Olsen, June Bronhill, Marina Prior, David Atkins, John English & Simon Gallagher (The latter two have since fared very successfully with their own version of this same show). Previously "Pirates" had been a bit on Broadway, with Kevin Kline a standout as the Pirate King and Linda Rondstadt astounding everyone as Mabel. The plot was still nonsensical, the music still fabulous but the interpretation was very twentieth century and the audiences lapped it up.

I make no apologies about my passion for G&S (and judging by the success of the recent movie "Topsy Turvy" it would appear this is a passion shared with many), I merely present to you the show for your enjoyment. It has been a tot of fun to do and there are many people to thank. In particular however, I must thank Wayne Elliott, Donna Wainohu, Adele Brownlow, Hillary Pearson, Gordon Cope, Ngaire Lewis, Kristen Evans & Dorothy Pollard for their patience, hard work, perseverance and faith in our ability to get this show up and running.


Major-General Stanley: Michael Gibson, The Pirate King: Waine Grafton, Samuel the Pirate King’s Lieutenant: Brad Crook, Frederic the Pirate Apprentice: Neil Horton, Sergeant of Police: David Gee, Mabel: Samantha Smith, Edith: Donna Wainohu, Kate: Carol Elder, Isabel: Emma White, Ruth the Pirate Maid Of All Work: Cheryl Landers

Daughters: Amber Charlesworth, Anne Abbott, Catherine Fenning, Emma Chapman, Emma Hadfield, Gwen Johnson, Ivy Rankin, Jane Anderson, Jeanette Berman, Jenny Welsh, Lissa Monk, Nadia Ozanne, Penny Taber, Peta Bale, Robyn Slocombe, Sandra Frid, Sharyn Holmes

Pirates: Alec Watt, Andrew Swann, David Paterson, David Young, Garry Slocombe, Malcolm Drake, Mark Wisemantel, Marney Tilley, Nicholas Monk, Peter Cuttle, Robert Tumeth, Steve Watt

Police: Alan Wilkinson, Alec Watt, Barbara Colledge, Bryce Little, Christine Leger, Malcolm Drake, Mark Wisemantel, Peter Bailey, Warren Flood


Conductor: Wayne Elliott, Violin: Alana Blackburn, Kate Chapman, Michelle Winders, Rachael Menzies, Viola: Annie Chapman, Marita Arnold, Cello: Claire Chapman, Angela Farrell, Bass: Wendy Griffiths, Guitar: Steve Thorneycroft, Flute: Sharon Davidge, Oboe: Sussan Farrell, Clarinet: Ptolemy Watson, Emily Davis, Rebekah O’Hare, Trumpet/Trombone: David Brown, French Horn: Michael Jackson, William Arnold, Bruce Menzies,Tympany/Percussion: Tomoyo Veda, Peter Nicholls


Producer: Donna Wainohu
Director: Michael Gibson
Musical Director: Wayne Elliott
Choreographer: Adele Brownlow
Assistant Choreographers: Donna Wainohu, Michael Gibson
Repetiteur: Hillary Pearson
Costume Design/Co-ordination: Kristen Evans, Ngaire Lewis
Stage Manager: Gordon Cope
Director's Assistant: Barbara Colledge
Set Design: Nadia Ozanne, Waine Grafton
Set Construction: Donna Wainohu, Gordon Cope (as well as many willing cast members)
Lighting Design: Bryce Little, Lachlan Ashley
Lighting Operators: Andrew Milroy, Lachlan Ashley
Sound: Hobart Veridian
Make-Up: Di Arnold
Properties: Betty Hall
Prompt: Diana Helmrich
Backstage Crew: Andrew Carson, Bob Crossle, Brian Thomas, Darren Mackle, James McKern, Maryanne Vickers, Phillip Pain, Ros Brady
Programme: Michael Gibson
Publicity/Poster Design: Adelaide Veridian
Front Of House: Debbie Towner
Bookings/Ticket Sales: Margaret Kennedy
Piratical Maid Of All Work: Dorothy Pollard


Armidale High School, Armidale Playhouse, Burton's Saddlery, Gosh Hairdressing, Hannah’s, Mitre 10, Monk family, Paint Right, Pauline Paul and the Bankstowin Theatrical Company, Peter Bailey Office Network, Prime Television, The Armidale School, The Imperial Hotel, Tim Clark and the staff at the UNE Arts Theatre, Wayne McFayden Produce Merchants.

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