The Pirates of Penzance Sails into Sydney

14 November 2012
Read Time: 1.9 mins

Matthew Gent, who's performing the role of Frederic in the production of The Pirates of Penzance currently playing at the Sydney Theatre, has a very clear idea where his character would like to go on holidays.

"I think Frederic would want to do a cruise around the Spanish coast and meet some proper pirates. The Penzance Pirates try their best to be proper pirates but they're too nice. They're not the blood thirsty pirates that they think they are," said Matthew.

 Nic Gibney, Matthew Gent, Michael Burgen & cast in Sasha Regan's The Pirates of Penzance at Sydney Theatre until 24 November 2012. Photographer: © Lisa Tomasetti 2012

"Frederic is the pirate apprentice - he's a slave of duty. He's constantly bound by his duty, he wants to do the right thing even if it conflicts with his heart. He has to commit to everything he says. I find it a little bit challenging because everyone around me has some really funny lines and I have to be completely straight."

The production, directed by Sasha Regan, was critically acclaimed when it premiered in 2009 at London's Union Theatre before transferring to Wilton's Music Hall and onto the Hackney Empire. The Australian tour has already seen the pirates drop anchor at various ports around the country.

"I'm really enjoying the tour. I've never done it before. It's quite exhilarating being in a different city each week. And with each new theatre we do a dress rehearsal which ensures that the quality of the show remains high. It's great to gauge a different audience's reaction," said Matthew.

"I really loved Perth; I had a great time there. The beaches were superb. I spent time on Cottlesloe Beach and we got some good weather there. We've played in some really beautiful theatres. Her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide was particularly beautiful. And the Regal Theatre in Perth was a converted cinema which comes complete with a crying room, where mothers used to leave the kids."

However Matthew, who's originally from Country Durham but has lived in London since 2005 when he moved to the English capital to study performance, loves the opportunity of performing in Sydney. Together with the rest of the cast, he headed over to the beaches of the eastern suburbs and explored the cliff top walk between Bronte and Bondi. Matthew was surprised to discover that the walk wasn't flat but far more interesting with the towering limestone cliffs and beautiful little bays and coves.

Interestingly, this particular production of the operetta that was originally written in 1879 and received a London debut in 1880,  has garnered significant attention because it features an all-male cast.

"It's been really beneficial. The trick with Gilbert and Sullivan is that all of the humour is hidden beneath big language. We've been forced to pull the language apart and look at the characters. As far as an actor approaching the piece, it's been a really good experience. We give a true interpretation of the piece itself."

In between acting gigs, Matthew loves searching out laid back beach destinations.

"I had an amazing trip to Key West, which was really good fun. I escaped the cold British weather. I like somewhere that's laid back but still has enough to do. But this tour has been just as a good as a holiday also."

To catch all the swash-buckling action of Sasha Regan's The Pirates of Penzance at the Sydney Theatre, let your local Flight Centre consultant arrange your flights, accommodation and theatre tickets. The production runs until November 24 2012.

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.