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All-Male The Pirates of Penzance returns to London at Hackney Empire

The Pirates of Penzance
A previous cast of The Pirates of Penzance. Photo Kay Young

First seen at Southwark’s Union Theatre in 2009, Sasha Regan’s acclaimed all-male production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance will return to London one last time, playing at Hackney Empire next week from Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th June.

A classic musical comedy of mistaken identity, The Pirates of Penzance follows young Frederic, a child apprenticed to a band of tender-hearted, orphaned pirates exploring the coastline in search of treasure and romance. It first opened in 1879 and was an immediate triumph for Gilbert and Sullivan, remaining to this day their most popular and successful collaboration. Now, Sasha Regan’s critically acclaimed all-male production, a fresh and exquisitely funny re-imagining of this much-loved classic, returns to set sail across the UK.

From its humble beginnings playing to 50 people under a railway arch at the Union Theatre in Southwark, The Pirates of Penzance went on to win the 2010 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Off West End Production, and play sell-out runs at Wilton’s Music Hall and Hackney Empire, before heading to Australia for a major national tour. The production now makes a welcome voyage home this Spring to tour the UK for the first time ahead of a final run at Hackney Empire.

This revival of The Pirates of Penzance falls in the 15th Anniversary year for The Union Theatre, a year which will also see the theatre transfer to a brand new, purpose-built 100-seat space across the road in Southwark. The Union Theatre has developed an extraordinary reputation for reimagining musicals on the small scale, and is becoming known for its all-male productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, with HMS Pinafore also being re-imagined in 2013 to great acclaim.

There are underlying serious moments as well. It was not that long ago that two men kissing on stage would have prompted controversy. Society has changed so radically, and so much for the better, to permit a show such as this to live and thrive, theatre at its best, in all its glorious comedy and joy.Review by Ruth Gledhill

The cast features Alan Richardson as Mabel, Samuel Nunn as Frederic, Alex Weatherhill as Ruth, James Waud as Sergeant of Police, Michael Burgen as Samuel, Ben Irish as Edith, Dale Page as Kate, Richard Russell Edwards as Connie, Chris Theo-Cook as Isabel. The ensemble company is completed by Joel Elferink, Joseph Houston, William Whelton, Matt Jolly, Tommy Knapp, Liam Lakin and Thomas Henson.

The Pirates of Penzance is directed by Sasha Regan who for 15 years has been artistic director of The Union Theatre, where directing credits include Sweeney Todd, Iolanthe, HMS Pinafore, Whistle Down The Wind, Cabaret and Love Story. It is choreographed by Lizzi Gee, whose recent work includes the BAFTA award-winning film Pride, the UK Tour of Annie Get Your Gun, A Winter’s Tale for the RSC and Rocket to the Moon at the National Theatre. Lizzi is currently working on The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas for Chichester Festival Theatre.

The Pirates of Penzance is directed by Sasha Regan and choreographed by Lizzi Gee with musical direction by David Griffiths, design by Robyn Wilson Owen and lighting design by Jack Weir. It is produced by Regan De Wynter and Hilary A. Williams.


Tuesday 16th June 2015


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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