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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2006
You can tell from the overture that this will not be Pirates as written. Yes, most of the material is there, but it is re-orchestrated for synthesizer etc. And the cast appears to be VIPs from Austrailia's theater world rather than G&S singers. Rather like the Ronstat Kline US production. Most are amplified and that is at times distracting. Now if you can accept this you are in for a genuine delight. These folks are wonderful entertainers and the schticks flow fast and free. Not that the original is slighted. Look at it as a way to bring G&S up to date. Accept Australia's premise and prepare to be swept up in inspired lunacy.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2007
While this production may not quite stick to the 'spirit' that G&S intended, it is possibly one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Pirates is meant to be a comedy, and this makes it more so. It may possibly be that some of the humour will not translate to an international market (it's an Australian production), but a lot of it will.

All the singers are fantastic, possibly the weakest singer is Jon English (the Pirate King) but he makes up for any small inadequacies in his voice with the absolutely amazing energy of his performance. Ruth is played by a veteran of Australian stage, Toni Lamond.

The two best singers are Mabel and Frederick, as they should be.

If you want to watch a fun production, this is what you should watch.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2006
this rendition of the Pirates of Penzance is an excellant watch and has brought enjoyment and laughter to our entire family for a long time .We all have fond memories of watching it again and again and this from young ones you would never get to the opera let alone reportory. The tongue in cheek banter and the interaction with the conductor of the orchestra are hysterical so advice all to settle in for a good laugh and much mirth.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2007
If you are after traditional G&S, you've definitely come to the wrong place. This version is fun, frothy and silly, extensively "modernised", with little bits added and with electronic music. This production, with Jon English (Pirate King) and Simon Gallaher, first opened in Sydney in 1984 - just a fabulous night out - and personally I preferred it to what it had evolved to ten or so years later (the 1984 version launched the unknown Marina Prior, had a larger chorus of far more "normal" sisters, featured David Atkins as a sparklingly energetic and very tiny Sargeant, and June Bronhill - a real opera singer - as a delightful Ruth).

It's inevitable that some parts will not please everyone. Some changes enhance it, some seem like change for the sake of change... after all there ARE good reasons this show from the 1870s is still so loved! For example, I love the energy, enthusiasm and dancing ability of anything involving the Pirates and the men's chorus. On the other hand I can't stand the not-so-Fabulous-Singlettes, three singers who play "the ladies chorus" - if I was Frederic faced with a choice of marrying Ruth or going for the "sweet young things" then one of the most beautiful yearning tenor solos in the G&S lexicon would never have been written.

The strength of this production revolves around Frederic and the Pirate King (and that men's chorus!).

Simon Gallaher (Frederic) who I believe mounted this production (?) is a lovely Frederic - sings like an angel, looks young and innocent - just delightful. He plays the role "straight", and it works.

I really enjoy the performance of Jon English as the Pirate King. English (a former 70s rock star) has an awesome presence, helped by being extremely tall. He plays the King as a bit of a thick, a combination of lovable and scary but definitely dumb! - and very funny (although this probably worked better on stage!).

Helen Donaldson as Mabel is lovely - and also played "straight".

Major General - not the best choice - too young (looks like the younger brother of the Fabulous Singlettes), too stupid, too comic. The ORIGINAL is funny enough.

So - to buy it or not? It depends what you are after! My kids are enjoying it (as I speak!) as an intro to G&S, and it's great for that. Those looking for a new approach will find plenty to enjoy, although you may find (like me) that the "price" of the energy and new approach is needing to forgive some stuff!!! Purists will probably find that it is too much.

I DO wish they'd recorded it ten years earlier before it went too far...

There's another production currently running in Australia, from Opera Australia. I expect this will become available in the next six months (it's already been on TV) and I look forward to getting that one. Personally I prefer it, and I have to say the singing is MUCH, MUCH better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2007
I first saw this production on Sky and was thrilled to get the D.V.D. from Amazon. Gilbert and Sullivan purists may hate this interpretation but in my opinion operetta is meant to be light hearted fun, and I think G & S would approve. When I want serious I view grand opera at Covent Garden.
The singing and acting were superb and the comedy sketches hillarious without being farcical.
Jon English, well what can I say? Totally brilliant!
More uplifting than Prozac, more fun than a night out with the girls, my perfect stay at home feel good D.V.D
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2006
This version of "Pirates" is worth the viewing if only to hear the tenor; fantastic control and amazing voice.

Most of the play is tossed away carelessly as the principles (Pirate King and & the Major General) never take what they are doing seriously and we are constantly aware that they are aware they are doing a play and are trying ever-so-hard to be funny.

The 3 Singlets, cast as the ("8, or 9, or 10 in all") General's daughters are talented singers, but their singing doesn't make up for the fact that they look more as if they should have been cast as Ruth(s) AND they chew (read devour) the scenery whenever they're on stage. Oh. Did I mention that for some inexplicable reason they found it necessary to add a rock n' roll beat to many of the songs?

Imagine "Pirates of Penzance" done almost completely for Burlesque and you get the overall impression. If one principle character was overplayed, it might have been cute - this many hammy over-the-top actors and it's just too much. The Pirate King is especially appealing and would have added a certain cache if some of the others had been restrained; notably the Major General who let no sight gag or mugging opportunity slip past him - even those that destroyed character, pace, and plot.

The less said about Ruth, the better. I suspect she is an Australian celebrity; I can't think she was chosen for her acting or singing. The Police Sergeant is a skilled contortionist.

HOWEVER - the saving grace of the piece are Frederick and Mabel. They are just too darn good to miss.

The scenes where the Singlets are restrained, where the Major General is GONE, or the Pirates are on alone work well.

If you are prepared for a bit of a roller-coaster ride, this show is worth watching. Just be prepared with the 'mute' or 'fast forward'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2008
Yes, at some time or another in this production, every cast member does some mugging for the audience. Some more than others. Some of it is down right shameless. The thing is, I saw a portion of this on the ARTS cable network before I bought it and read the reviews here so I had an idea what I was getting. I got exactly what I expected. This DVD gives you excellent performers (maybe not great actors) but fantastic performers. The biggest ham is John English as the pirate king. His interplay with the conductor is terrific and as other reviewers have stated, he is not taking his role seriously. If however, you watch the performance it is obvious that every move has been rehearsed over and over and that all these spontaneous acts come off flawlessly. Derek Metzger as the major-general was a bit annoying with his extra antics, but I could live with that. Tim Tyler as the sergeant did a nice job but I especailly enjoyed his bit with (I think they were ping-pong balls)after his first entrance. Simon Gallaher as Frederic was great and Helen Donaldson was the first Maybel I've ever seen that actually seemed to have a personality. Most Maybels are just there looking cute and singing. She actually used expressions starting with her first entrance: Yes it's Maaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy Bel! Then she got in to the part with the marching song. Hmmm..Good acting and a nice voice. Nice concept. I also would be neglectful if I did not mention the 3 daughters of the Major-General. They indeed tend to chew up the scenery when they were on, but those ladies had some talent!!! This DVD provided exactly what I expected and what I hoped for when I ordered it. This is just 115 minutes of fun. Even the opening overture starts out with the cast having fun with Gilbert and Sullivan. I've read that G & S purists might not like this production. I don't know what a G & S purist is. I love Gilbert and Sullivan and this version did not offend me at all. Maybe I'm not a purist. If you're not a 'purist', don't miss this version of Pirates of Penzance. If you enjoy it once, you will want to watch it again...and again...and again...and...well, you get it. This is an easy DVD to recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I am a huge Musical Theater fan and ever since seeing Pirates of Penzance for the first time back when I was a freshman in high school, I have loved it ever since. The version I saw in HS followed the original pretty well, with a few minor adjustments here and there, so I made sure to a proffesional version of it later on. Now this particular Pirtes does not follow the original play as well as some might want it to, but I found it to be an utter joy.

I discovered this Australian cast version while searching the many videos on youtube for songs from Pirates and was absolutely taken with the entertainment/hilarity of this version. Sure it isn't the proper G&S version of Pirates, I believe it's a bit of a parody, but I love it!!! This version seems like it was made for the sake of entertainment, so just enjoy it! Sure some of the dialogue has changed and a lot of the music has been modernized with a bit of a Rock feel to it and the characters may be a bit over the top at times, it's funny and meant to be laughed at and enjoyed!

For those looking for a more traditional rendition of Pirates, I would suggest the Australian Opera version. Though not at funny or entertaining as this one, Its the beloved version of Pirates most of us know and love. So I suggest this to anyone looking for a bit of fun, hilarity, slight stupidity and all around entertainment. Just make sure you aren't TOO critical about it, otherwise you'll spend the entire prformance pointing out what: is wrong or doesn't follow the original, and you won't be able to just enjoy it for what it is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2007
If you are a G & S afficionado, you may find this version beyond the pale.

If on the other hand you enjoy the music and humour of these comic operas and are prepared to accept that this company seem more interested in sharing a good time with the audience, than following the script, then this is for you.

Simon Gallaher's production romps through to the finish and everyone on stage seems to be having the time of their life.

True, there are a number of liberties taken with the libretto and even, with some of the characters. But the entire cast have superb voices with the possible exception of Jon English, whose voice may not have the quality of some of the others but is used to its best advantage and is perfect for the part of the Pirate King. Jon English leads the cast with obvious enjoyment and his asides and jibes at the orchestra pit are a joy.

The lack of an orchestra, it being replaced by synthesisers and percussion, did nothing to reduce and in my opinion, occasionally increased the listener's pleasure.

This is one of three productions from this company and is, to me, the best. It is upbeat and this antipodean angle on the original is a pleasure to behold.

I recommend this to music lovers and lovers of comic opera, but not to those who want their G & S exactly as, originally, written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This Australian production of "The Pirates of Penzance" is totally hilarious. I would only recommend it to those who are not G&S purists. I'm sure that Gilbert would be rolling in his grave if he were to see it. However, I'm always happy to have fun with "camped up" versions of G&S productions as well as those true to the original production.

Jon English makes an unforgettable and totally hilarious Pirate King. Simon Gallaher, (Frederick), as well as Helen Donaldson make a beautiful couple. The entire cast and orchestra are outstanding.

I highly recommend it!!

Laurie
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