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Pirates, policemen and pretty maids in perfect pitch
The Production Company's new staging of the Broadway version of The Pirates of Penzance opens in Hamer Hall on October 30 for a season of six performances only. Was it really 30 years ago that Melbourne audiences were first introduced to Marina Prior, then a nineteen-year-old Burke Street busker?
Here, Weekend Notes interviews the talented (and whimsical) Brent Hill, one of the stars of last year's highly successful The Producers, who is performing the role of Sergeant of Police at full throttle.
Gilbert and Sullivan operettas underwent a makeover in the mid-90s. What do you think of tampering with a G and S operetta to bring it into the 21st century?
I think that an ancient exquisite antique house is exceptionally beautiful, but some people are allergic to mould.
Jon English is credited with making the Pirate King sexy. (Just me then?) What does the current production of The Pirates of Penzance bring to its Melbourne audience that is new and exciting?
I wore out my VHS tape after seeing it live on stage, Jon was brilliant. The purple pants will never die. The two week rehearsal period requires a lot of sticky tape. If anyone finds it new and exciting it's entirely their own fault. If you're having even the least bit of fun we encourage you to return home immediately.
Are you hoping to introduce a new generation to Gilbert and Sullivan operetta?
Yes, it's so brilliantly scored. I remember seeing it as a kid, just blown away how much the music spoke. So hopefully the 70 kids finally get into it.
Does the current production also cater to the G and S tragics?
There are moments of tragically beautiful fragility, yes. There are moments where the sticky tape comes undone and feet go flying, yes. This production doesn't take itself too seriously. So if you want more tragedy for your dollar, perhaps cut an onion at intermission.
Now let's talk about you… Your CV indicates you are a double threat if not a triple threat. What are you like at dancing?
I dance exceptionally well. If you don't believe me, blindfolds are available.
Does your role as Sergeant of Police require you to dust off your dancing shoes?
I vacuum pack everything. But they are getting a heavy airing!
How do you put your individual stamp on a role that has been played so many times by so many people?
I am going to sing every note two semi-tones higher.
What was your first experience of Gilbert and Sullivan?
As mentioned above, Simon Gallahger and Jon English at the Theatre Royal in Perth. Timeless.
Have you ever been to Penzance?
I have, but I've never been to me.
Finally, can you reveal your own personal highlight of this production without giving too much away?