28 March 2023

Pirates land at Wagga Beach with the promise of a rollicking good time

| Chris Roe
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actors as pirates

Choreographer Julian Smith and set designer and builder Chris Kanck try out the props ahead of rehearsal. Photo: SOACT.

We all know Wagga’s world-class beach is not on the ocean, so it was something of a surprise to families enjoying the Riverside precinct recently to see it swarming with pirates!

Region can confirm that they were neither river pirates nor a long-lost crew of land-lubbing buccaneers; rather, it was the cast of a landmark show rolling into the Wagga Civic Theatre in three weeks’ time.

The Riverina Opera and Light Opera Company (ROLOC) is promising to live up to the acronym and deliver a rollicking performance of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, The Pirates of Penzance.

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Director Leigh Ladd and musical director Nicky Rosengren were excited by the talent of those who auditioned, with Lyn Hogan and Iain Wright cast in the leads as Mabel and Frederick.

“We’ve got some great principal performers and some of the chorus work is terrific,” said Leigh.

woman and man

Lyn Hogan and Iain Wright will perform as Mabel and Frederick. Photo: Supplied.

ROLOC is a newly formed part of the Wagga Wagga School of Arts which is returning to the Civic Theatre stage as part of the 60th anniversary of the opening of the theatre in 1963.

Rehearsals are now well underway for the show and the director said they were currently pushing on through stormy seas.

“Three weeks out and we’ve finished all the blocking and we’re just starting to run the show, so it’s kind of at the point that everything looks at its worst, to be honest,” Leigh said with a laugh, emphasising that there are clear skies ahead.

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“It’s a nerve-wracking time, but on Sunday it was all starting to come together.

“There’s a lot of work to do but it’s really starting to happen and it was very comforting to see that we really have got something.”

Pirates movie poster

Director Leigh Ladd will launch the Riverina Opera and Light Opera Company with The Pirates of Penzance in April 2023. Photo: Supplied.

Leigh, a musical theatre veteran who has been involved in opera in Sydney as both a performer and director for more than a decade, said they had been blessed with a great cast.

“Already there are some absolutely stunning bits where it’s jaw-droppingly good,” he enthused.

The cast has also had the chance to rehearse with the orchestra at the new Riverina Conservatorium of Music, something that Leigh says is a rare opportunity.

“We’ve actually been having rehearsals with the full cast and the Con orchestra and that’s actually been coming together really, really well,” he said.

“Normally, you do your work and then you turn up and you do a dress rehearsal with the orchestra once or maybe one other time, but this way, everyone has a really good idea of what it’s going to sound like and how it’s going to be to work with them, so I think it just increases the promise of this being really fantastic.”

The production will launch on Wednesday, 12 April, with a red-carpet gala premiere before the official opening performance on the Thursday.

“It’s essentially the final run before opening to the public, so essentially it’s a preview so all of the sponsors and family and friends and people like that can come and see,” Leigh explained.

“That’s the time the cast has got to suddenly say, right, we’ve got an audience, we’ve now got to step up to the mic!”

The Pirates of Penzance opens on 13 April in the Civic Theatre and tickets are available here.

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