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Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career

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1982-04-06 Glasgow Herald.jpg


IT'S a long way from Dunoon to Drury Lane, and from 'Tiswas" to 'The Pirates of Penance,' but Sylvester McCoy leaps distance. Style and maybe even time, like a gnomic Dr Who, complete with long, rainbow-bred scarf.

Sylvester paraded at Drury Lane tee other day to company with George Cole. Annie Ross, diminutive Bonnie Langford (a pixie to his gnome, starlet from head to toe), Tim Curry, and -— when she finally arrived — Pamela Stephenson, rigged out for piratical adventures in a mini-mermaid skirt.

They are the principal members at the cast of the British production of the smash-hit Broadway version of 'The Pirates,' which opens at Drury Lane on May 26 under the American director Wilford Leach.

"G and S" is new territory for virtually all of them. Mr Leach had cast his net wide, auditioned exhaustively, and now surveyed the catch with satisfaction through donniah spectacles. "I go on vibrations," he said. "They are the right mixture —and they all want to sing.

Sylvester learned one song and went along and sang it, thinking that would conviince them of his inestimable worth — but they told him to learnt another and come back again.

He bounced back just as he did in the Ken Campbell road shows, with rather less apparent violence but equal sang-froid. Life deals him odd cards. He only came to London, after all, on a holiday - made a change from Dunoon — got a job in an insurance firm that went bust, and landed up selling tickets in the box office at the Round House.

When Ken Campbell and Co landed up there and inquiered "if there was a young idiot around who might like to join in.," management replied that there was "a right loonie in the box office."

"D'you want a job as an actor?"

"Sure," he said, with that gentle wide-eyed acceptance of life's curious turns that has brought him all the way — and made him a natural for the part of Stan Laurel he played so successively last year in "Gone to Hardy" opposite Jimmy Logan.

As it chances — by an almost Gilbertian coincidence — Jimmy's sister, Annie Ross, is also now making her "G and S" debut. She has a sideways connection, though, as the explained, for the group of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross had enormous success in the States as the 'Gilbert and Sullivan of Jazz."

She is relishing the prospect of doing a show that will allow her to use the very high range of her voice, but also looking forward to the fun of it all. It's almost a pantomime kind of thing," she said. "I wish my father was still alive to see it."

Pamela Stephenson, fair of face under her punk, blonde aureole, described her role of Mabel as that of "a spirited but nice young lady, very sweet and pure. You could call it type casting," she said, eyelids fluttering, demurely.

Long before "Not the Nine O'Clock News" made her name here, she had played in "Gypsy' and 'Cabaret' in Australia. On paper that didn't cut any ice with Wilford Leach, though, and she had to compete against a hundred applicants to get the star part.

Wilford Leach smiled fluidly at the snatches of conversations wafting across the Crush Bar at Drury Lane. Then for the umpteenth time he explained that "we're just doing 'Pirates' as though it's a neww play — like Shakespeare, it's so good in itself that you don't need to jazz it up." As director of the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre, he should know.

PS. — The dear, and, it is to be hoped, only temporarily departed D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was far from a spectre at this curious feast of talent. It has a £150,00 stake in the show, the gift of a resolutely anonymous donor who knew that such a sum could not get the original company out of the soup, but would keep the flag flying, and perhaps yield substantial returns to help the planned D'Oyly Carte on to the road again

Caption: The new Pirates of Penzance. Left to right: Bonnie Langford, Chris Langham, Pamela Stephenson, George Cole, Annie Ross, Tim Curry, Michael Praed, and, in front, Sylvester McCoy

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  • APA 6th ed.: Donaldson, Anne (1982-04-06). Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career. The Herald p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Donaldson, Anne. "Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career." The Herald [add city] 1982-04-06, 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Donaldson, Anne. "Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career." The Herald, edition, sec., 1982-04-06
  • Turabian: Donaldson, Anne. "Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career." The Herald, 1982-04-06, section, 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career | url= | work=The Herald | pages=3 | date=1982-04-06 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 March 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Pirates give Sylvester new plank in his stage career | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 March 2021}}</ref>