It’s one of the classics of light opera. The Pirates Of Penzance tells the story of young apprentice pirate, Frederic, and his attempts to escape a life of crime.

  York Theatre Royal

  Tue Nov 4-Sat Nov
8 @ 7.30pm plus Sat matinee @ 4.30pm

  £7-£22

  York Opera website

  Details on Theatre Royal website

This week a new production by York Opera sails into the Theatre Royal.

The company will ensure all the favourite elements of Gilbert and Sullivan’s show are here: the charismatic Pirate King, Major General Stanley and his many chaos-creating daughters, and the Metropolitan police.

Gilbert satirises the nobility, the military, the police and the supposed virtue of a ‘sense of duty’. The marriage of his words and Sullivan’s music gives us such gems as I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

So here are a few unusual facts about this entertaining show…

1. Its mascot is a well-travelled bear

pirates-of-penzance-bear

To publicise the show, the York Opera Pirate Bear has been travelled Britain from coast to coast and even made trips across the English Channel, all the while documenting his adventures on Twitter.

Among the places he’s visited are Penzance (natch), London, Cambridge, Norwich and Scotland, as well as a trip to see his cousins in Bristol Zoo.

He was also spotted sipping cocktails in Paris and tasting wine in Italy. And in between trips he managed to sneak in his very own ice bucket challenge.

2. You can go in fancy dress

pirates-of-penzance-fancy-dress

For the Saturday 4.30pm performance, all budding pirates are invited to come dressed up in their swashbuckling finery. Pirates of all ages are welcome to bring their eye patches and talking parrots for the performance, and the members of York Opera hope when they look out into the stalls they’ll see a fine array.

There will also be a Best Dressed Pirate competition, with a prize handed out to the pirate with the most convincing costume.

3. The policeman was once a hunchback

pirates-of-penzance-policeman

“My first onstage role was as Dracula’s hunchback servant in a school production,” revealed Anthony Gardner, who plays the Sergeant Of Police.

“That is unless you count an earlier appearance in a junior school passion play called The Cloths of Holy Week in which I somewhat implausibly played Judas Iscariot’s moneybag.”

4. But he’s a laughing policeman

pirates-of-penzance-police-pirate

Anthony says he shares the optimistic outlook of the policeman he plays. “At one point he’s told to ‘go and die’ and his response is essentially ‘that’s not the most motivational speech I’ve heard, but I can see where you were coming from and you meant well’.

“Even in his most famous song, When a felon’s not engaged in his employment (also known as “A policeman’s lot is not a happy one”), he sees the best in the criminals he has to arrest.

5. The show is a lot of fun

pirates-of-penzance-parrot

The Pirate Of Penzance is far funnier than I thought it would be,” says Jessica Holgate, who plays Kate.

“In York Opera’s production, we have a massive chorus so it is so much fun to have everyone on stage for the big numbers.”

6. Especially the dancing

pirates-of-penzance-sisters
The sisters… Emma Tatnall, Olivia Hildreth, Jessica Holgate and Heather Watts
“My favourite song from the show is the Tarantara song that the Sergeant and Chorus of Police sing in Act II,” says Jessica.

“It is hilarious and I have to stifle a laugh every time the sergeant and police perform the choreography…”

So there you go. Pirates, sisters and policemen all ready to entertain you on the high seas. What could be better?

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