THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE at The WHITGIFT FILM THEATRE – REVIEW

pirates

Pirates Of Penzance
at Whitgift Film Theatre
live streamed from the
English National Opera
May 19th 2015
Review by Josie-Anne Gray

I have to admit that I’ve been giddy with excitement looking forward to seeing this production over the past few weeks. I first saw Pirates when I was 19. It was at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle and it gave me a longstanding love of this silly, clever opera. I was hoping not to be disappointed tonight and I was not.

The Whitgift live streams are a wonderful opportunity for those of us in places just that bit too far from London and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden or The Coliseum to see these great productions. Ticket prices are a factor as well so the much reduced cost of £15 is a bargain. The Whitgift Film Theatre provides a comfortable and intimate venue and the streams give the theatre an opportunity to share great art and hopefully make some money for investment in the future.

Mike Leigh’s set for the production is spectacular. It is huge, modern and bright painted in sea blues and pea greens with a great, jutting red pirate ship cutting through at what looks like quite a precarious angle for the lively opening section that contains one of the show’s great songs I Am A Pirate King. Joshua Bloom gives this pirate king verve and humour. The glorious rich boom of his voice elevates the song to a truly joyous anthem, setting the vocal standard high.

The singers with the greatest control and clarity in the opening are Bloom and Robert Murray as easily addled Frederic the apprentice. Rebecca de Pont Davies as Ruth is also spectacular in the opening with crystalline diction. I found her performance poignant and touching. As an older woman, cast out and deemed unlovable she is the shadow in a show of light and frivolity and Davies brought that very much to the fore in her performance.
I wanted the Major General (Andrew Shore) to deliver his tricky show-stopper with panache but alas it seemed to outface him and he stumbled and was just behind the music throughout rendering this notoriously difficult patter song rather shambolic. He was much better in the second half where he seemed more comfortable in his role.

Pirates has the silliest of plots and is famous for its humour, it paradoxes and its all round rollicking sense of fun. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the delicious With Catlike Tread which the company performed with gusto. If ever there was a song to lift the spirits then surely this is it.

The second half truly belonged to the Sergeant of Police (Jonathon Lemalu) whose face was obscured by the most ludicrous comedy beard and whose paunch was so pronounced he looked in danger of toppling over but his delivery was faultless and joyously absurd. He gave his role all the burlesque delight it deserves and outshone everyone except the Pirate King, which is as it should be. In that long ago production in Newcastle, I remember being reduced to crying with laughter at the Sergeant of Police and having aching sides. The effect was not quite the same but his performance was wonderfully enjoyable.

I tripped out of the theatre, not quite with catlike tread but certainly well entertained. If opera is not your thing or not something with which you are comfortable and familiar, then dipping your toe in the water with Gilbert and Sullivan is probably an excellent place to start. If you feel bold and fancy something a little darker and sexier then the Whitgift Film Theatre is streaming ENO’S new production of Carmen on Wednesday 1st July. If the trailer is anything to go by, you may need to lie down in a darkened room with a flannel on your head afterwards!

The Whitgift Film Theatre is on the web here: whitgiftfilmtheatre.co.uk and on Facebook.

This review appears in The Peoples Issue 34 Web Edition

“THIS IS STILL EUROPE’S FOOD TOWN” – STEVE NORTON: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE FMA TALKS TO THE PEOPLES

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Steve Norton is Chief Executive of the Grimsby FMA, the body that represents fish merchants in our area. He’s been in the industry since starting with Ross Fish in 1966 as a management trainee. His career also took him to Findus Nestle and Young’s and he has been in his present role since 2001. He was good enough to give us a tour of the Fish Market and to answer some questions.

The Peoples: What’s the role of the FMA in the seafood industry?

Steve Norton: The FMA is a trade association. We exist to represent our members, to lobby on their behalf and to get the best possible deal for them. We help our members in many ways, from providing advice about business law to helping to sort out problems with utilities companies or banks. We are also on very good terms with members of the Government especially the Fisheries Minister and with the fisheries ministers from other countries such as Iceland. I like to think that we give our members good value for money.

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You’ve recently started an organisation called Seafood Grimsby and Humber. What’s the purpose of the new brand?

Seafood Grimsby and Humber involves some of the most important people in the local industry along with representatives from NE Lincs Council, their strategic partner Cofely and academics from the Grimsby Institute. We are engaged in planning the best possible future for the cluster of seafood related industries on both banks of the Humber. We tried to bring together all sectors of the seafood industry from catching to processing and distribution. Sadly, the catching side is not as big as it was but this town is still a major seafood hub.

If you are in the seafood industry, you will have business with Grimsby. Either you will be based here or you will send your product here or you will purchase from here.

The seafood industry is worth ​2.5 billion pounds a year to the local economy. This is still Britain’s Food Town and 70% of Europe’s chilled fish is produced in this area. The FMA celebrated its centenary in 2011 but we felt that it was time for renewal. We needed a more cluster inclusive body to take over some of the work of the FMA and so Seafood Grimsby and Humber was conceived and developed in conjunction with Simon Dwyer and Liz Baghurst of the Seafox management consultancy.

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Has the processing industry in this area adapted and become more diverse in response to changes in the industry?

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Most certainly. There is a wide range of processing going on locally. We are one of the biggest salmon processing areas outside Scotland, producing quality products for both retail and the catering industry. We have crab, lobster and shellfish specialists like Fastline on the North Wall. At Cawood’s fish curers on the Pyewipe Industrial Estate they produce salt fish, or bacalao, and we also have firms who process by products. At the Fish Meal Factory UFI have a very high tech operation producing animal feed and there is a company called JHS at Stallingborough who buy fish heads and freeze dry them for export. We are in the process of commissioning some research into possible medical by products which is a very promising line of enquiry.

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How important to the industry is European protection for traditional Grimsby smoked fish?

Grimsby smoked fish is one of our most famous products, cured in the traditional way, over smouldering wood shavings, without artificial colours or flavourings. Now it has the same protection as Parma Ham, Champagne and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies. It’s a superb product. We’re very proud of it.

What’s the future for the Grimsby fishing industry cluster?

Obviously the industry has changed. Fewer boats, fewer merchants but still as much fish processed in the town as there ever was. I think we will be a major centre for many years to come and I hope that both the FMA and Seafood Grimsby and Humber will have played a major part in achieving a sustainable industry. That would be a good legacy for me and for the organisations.

Grimsby FMA on the web: grimsbyfishmerchants.co.uk

This article can be found in The Peoples Issue 34

The Peoples – Issue 44 now available

Background Issue 34

Issue 34 of The Peoples is now out and about. It has a feature on Grimsby Fish, with interviews with Steve Norton of the FMA, Chris Sparkes of Jaines Seaford plus a visit to Alfred Enderby’s smoke house and Fastline Shellfish and we finally managed to get a picture of the proper kind of lobster.

Also chimney sweeps, the Tour de Yorkshire, Tom Jones and lots of local arts and entertainments information!

It’s in all the big supermarkets and online here.

CLEETHORPES CARNIVAL – MARINA RICHARDSON OF YOUNG’S CHATS TO THE PEOPLES

Carnival

In 2012 the Cleethorpes Carnival Parade was officially over. Funding had disappeared and it looked as though the event would be consigned to history. Fortunately Young’s Seafoods had other ideas and they stepped in and rescued the event and the past few years have seen the parade go from strength to strength. We spoke to Marina Richardson, Marketing Controller at Young’s Seafoods about their role in saving the carnival.

How long have you been involved with the Carnival?
I’ve been with the team since Young’s started to support it in 2013.

How did the Young’s link up with the carnival come about?
The carnival began in the 1970s and is part of Cleethorpes and Grimsby’s heritage. At Young’s we believed that the carnival was vitally important to the local community and we didn’t want to see it end because of a lack of funding. So we decided that we would step in and support the event and in doing so we would be giving back something to the community that has been our home for many years.

How have people responded to Young’s as carnival sponsors?
We have had some great feedback and had nearly 100 entries last year with around 30,000 coming out to enjoy the carnival. People come from all around the country to visit the carnival and local people look forward to it every year so we’re delighted that we are able to be a part of it.

Was the Carnival an important part of your childhood?
I lived in Yorkshire but I remember coming to Cleethorpes for the Jubilee and watching the carnival. We had a wonderful day and it’s been a fond and abiding memory.

What is your role in the planning process?
I help co-ordinate the Young’s support. We start planning in August for the following year. There is a team of twelve at Young’s plus the Clee Events team and around a further 60 Young’s employees and their families come and help on the day.

What is your favourite memory of last year’s carnival?
I was on the Young’s float with my 10 year old son who had a fantastic time! Just seeing everyone waving and looking happy, really enjoying the atmosphere of the carnival was amazing. It’s brilliant seeing the whole community come together and have a fun filled day.

What are you looking forward to most this year?
Hopefully even more people supporting and enjoying the carnival – plus we’ve got some amazing surprise acts planned this year! It’s going to be very special indeed so keep watching out for further news nearer the date!

This interview appears in The Peoples Issue 34 Web Edition