Watch out - there are pirates on the horizon!
The Kirkcaldy Gilbert and Sullivan Society (KGASS) is hard at work in rehearsals for this year’s production of The Pirates of Penzance.
The opera was one of the earliest that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote together - and performer, write and director Robin Ozog said that, when it was last performed, it was done with a Fife twist.
“The last time we did it, it was as the Pirates of Pittenweem but we’ve gone back to the more traditional way this year!” he said.
“We were in Vienna last year with Pink Champagne, so now we’ve come back to Cornwall.
“What I like about Pirates is there’s a couple of really good chorus numbers and some fantastic parts in it.
“There’s lots of good stuff for the principals - the mens’ chorus and female chorus separate and then come together for the finale of act one and then into act two.
“There’s lot of laughs in it too, which is good from the audience point of view, because it keeps their attention. It swings from comedy into serious melodrama.
“There’s quite a lot of dialogue too which contains a lot of comedy and I’ve included wee extra bit here and there.
“I’ve introduced something extra at the start which audiences won’t be expecting but I’m not telling you what it is!”
The company has been running in the Lang Toun since 1939 and Robin says it’s always important to welcome new members.
“It’s always great to get new blood involved because we need to keep KGASS going and the more new people we have coming, the better the chance it has.
“We’re all getting on a wee bit and I don’t want KGASS to die out, because it’s important. We have great fun at rehearsals, so there’s the social aspect as well which is what you want.”
One of those new faces for 2018 is Nick Temperley, who is not only performing with KGASS for the first time but is also making his debut in a principal role.
“It’s nerve-wracking at times,” he said, “I’ve been in the chorus for Pirates before but never as a principal.
“I’ve done a couple of things in Edinburgh and Dunfermline but this is my first time in Kirkcaldy. I’d seen a few of the KGASS performances before and I knew a few of the people talking part, so I thought I’d give it a go.
“I’m really looking forward to it. So far, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Nick (37), who is also one of the founders of the Edinburgh Brass band, says his interest in opera came from his elder brothers.
“They were doing G & S types of things so that’s where I first became aware of it. Then I did a couple of things when I was at university, then when I moved to Edinburgh and started doing stuff there.
“Pirates is one of their earlier ones. I’ve done a couple of Gilbert before Sullivan plays at the Edinburgh Fringe before, so it’s quite nice doing one that’s just a bit ahead of that.
“A lot of the time, it can be their later work that’s put on, so I’m looking forward to doing one of their early plays.
“The role of Frederick is one I’ve wanted to play for quite a while so I’m quite pleased to get it this time. He’s meant to be 21 so I need to play it while I’m still looking young enough!”
Joining Nick in the female principal role of Mabel is Jilly Martin, whose background is also family-inspired.
She said: “My mum played Mabel years ago, so I’m taking after her.
“She was absolutely delighted when I got the part. She lives in Cheltenham, so she comes up especially to see the shows, which is lovely and she’s extremely excited about this one.
“So I’m following in her footsteps but she was fantastic as Mabel, so it’ll be hard to top her!”
Jilly has been performing with the company on and off for the past six years and says to become involved takes a lot of commitment.
“I work in the education department at the Ecology Centre at Craigencalt teaching nature therapy and outdoor education.
“It’s quite hectic, because we’re rehearsing three times a week at the moment and, because I have young children and I’m working, it’s a real commitment to make.”
Despite her busy schedule, Jilly says she is thoroughly enjoying rehearsals.
“Pirates is probably my favourite one actually G & S play, actually,” she said, “I love all musicals but G & S comes from my mum. I think she’s pretty much done them all, so that got me into it. I did my first show when I was about three!
“Pirates is a fantastic show. It’s such good fun. It’s got really good numbers that people will definitely recognise.
“It’s got that G & S silliness and Robin has his own individual spin on it as well, which makes it interesting.”
Jilly added: “When I was 15, I wanted to sing like Britney Spears but my voice didn’t suit it – so here we are!
The Pirates of Penzance is on at The Adam Smith Theatre from March 7-10, evenings at 7.30pm and the Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Tickets are available from Elaine on 07949 381898, the society website at www.kirkgandss.co.uk, the theatre box office on 01592 583302 or at www.onfife.com.