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MIKE LEIGH'S THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE

SYNOPSIS: English National Opera's (ENO) cinema broadcast of Mike Leigh's production of The Pirates of Penzance is the UK's most successful opera on screen event, having taken in excess of 1.1M AUD at the UK box office to date, amounting to an audience of over 40,000 people. The story tells of the pirate apprentice Frederic (Robert Murray) and his love for Mabel (Claudia Boyle), the daughter of the Major General (Andrew Shore).

Review by Louise Keller:
The bold colour palette of the sets is perhaps the biggest surprise in Mike Leigh's direction of the English Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance from the director long associated with gritty backdrops and settings. With its larger than life characters, brightly coloured sets and animated cast, Gilbert & Sullivan's beloved operetta about sentimental pirates, clumsy coppers, musing maidens and curious paradoxes plays out in traditional, likeable fashion. Of course the music sweeps us along and the brilliant libretto is comic, albeit a bit dated. The cast does a fine job, although nothing can compare to the inspired casting of Jon English and Simon Gallaher as the Pirate King and Frederic respectively in the memorable 80s production.

It's Leigh's first dalliance with opera and he plays it safe. He has long been a G&S enthusiast: Leigh's 2000 film, Topsy-Turvy canvassed the lives of the acerbic librettist and pleasure-seeking composer to great effect. Here, Alison Chitty's sets make use of primary colours and effectively feature a large circular keyhole cutout that represents different things at different times.

To a large extent, the cast shines according to the songs they sing: Andrew Shore as the very model of a modern Major General, Robert Murray endearing as Frederic and the coquettish soprano Claudia Boyle as Mabel. I was fascinated by the fact that Rebecca de Pont as Ruth, never blinks: she is wide-eyed throughout. Joshua Bloom makes a dashing Pirate King and Jonathan Lemalu is fine as the British bobby.

It's easy entertainment and the songs are fun: I Am The Pirate King; Poor Wandering One; The Paradox... and of course I am the very model of a modern Major General, which requires perfect timing and crisp diction. The ENO performance is captured live from the London Coliseum and shot on multi-cam.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MIKE LEIGH'S THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (TBA)
(UK, 2015)

CAST: Robert Murray, Claudia Boyle, Andrew Shore.

PRODUCER: n/a

DIRECTOR: Mike Leigh (Film directed by Andy Morahan)

SCRIPT: W.S. Gilbert libretto

CINEMATOGRAPHER: n/a

EDITOR: n/a

MUSIC: Gilbert & Sullivan

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Designer: Alison Chitty

RUNNING TIME: 140 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 11, 2015 - July 30, 2015 (locations in Victoria, NSW, SA, ACT, Qld, WA)







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