The Pirates of Penzance has been reimagined and transformed in Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria in their upcoming production.

It tells the story of the young pirate apprentice Frederic as he comes of age. He announces that he is done with the pirates and his hopes to find a wife for him, he decides to go and see the world. Throughout the musical, characters such as Ruth, Major-General Stanley, Police Sargeant and Mabel entertain audiences.

A noticeable difference to this production though, is the Pirate King, who has instead been replaced with a Pirate Queen.

“Gilbert & Sullivan usually has very defined, traditional gender roles but we’ve made a complete departure from that”, said director Nicholas Renfree-Marks.

To create a more relatable and modern adaption of the classic, Renfree-Marks wanted to continue the trend of strong female roles. “I love that we’re starting to get some kick-ass female heroes like Wonder Woman and a female Doctor Who and I really wanted to be a part of that,” he said.

The time period has also had a makeover with it being brought forward into the 20th century to create a steampunk aesthetic.

“We’ve also brought the timeline into the next century, setting it during an alternate WWI timeline, where steam is still the dominant power source,” Renfree-Marks said.

While modernisations have been made, there is still a respect for the classic and what has made it so popular, especially in the amateur circles nowadays. The genius of the Gilbert and Sullivan remains through the music, especially with the cast under the tuition of MD and conductor Trevor Henley.

“The lyrics are so clever and hilarious and the characters are as fun as they are ridiculous! The harmonies are beautiful, especially when sung by our large cast. Our MD and conductor Trevor Henley is incredible and has put together a sumptuous aural feast,” he said.

Laura Slavin as Mabel

Laura Slavin as Mabel

GSOV’s cast is truly diverse, with the likes of Carol Whitfield, Laura Slavin, Katrina Katz and Robin Halls treading the boards.

Along with this diversity is a very dedicated and hardworking cast, full of old and new according to Renfree-Marks. “Everyone has leapt into the production with gusto and aplomb. I’m very humbled at the support and faith the cast have shown in both me and the production,” he said.

The cast’s commitment has allowed the directing team to create a complex and detailed show, through the use of choreography, moving sets and props such as real steel swords.

Renfree-Marks promises a night that breathes a new perspective into Pirates and excites audiences. “We’ve created a steam-punk world that’s both gritty and hopeful. It’s touching and hilarious. Our show says that anyone can be a hero if they follow their heart.”

GSOV Pirates of Penzance opens on Thursday October 26 at the Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre


Thursday October 26th – 8pm

Friday October 27th – 8pm

Saturday October 28th – 2pm & 8pm

Sunday October 29th – 3pm



Adults: $39

Concession: $33

Student $25

Child: $20

To book:


Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre

Cnr Bell Street and St. Georges Road, Preston.