The Pirates Of Penzance tells the story of young apprentice pirate, Frederic, and his attempts to escape a life of crime. On a rocky Cornish seashore, the arrival of an unbelievably large number of Major General Stanley’s daughters brings chaos – and eventually, the Metropolitan Police – into the previously idyllic existence of the Pirate King and his men. Whereupon W S Gilbert satirises the nobility, the military, the police and the supposed virtue of a sense of duty.

Among the bevy of daughters is Kate, played by Jessica Holgate. CHARLES HUTCHINSON has a question or two for her.


Give a potted history of your involvement with York Opera, Jessica.

"This is my first show with York Opera. I've known about the company for some time and already knew some of the members so thought that this would be a brilliant show to start with."

Who are you playing in Pirates?

"I am playing Kate, one of the Major General's daughters and sister to Mabel. Kate is feisty, fun and excitable. She is charmed by her surroundings and doesn't mind causing a bit of trouble with her sisters."

What do you most enjoy about performing G&S?

"It can be hilarious and discovering the humour in rehearsals has been great fun. Now it's our job to deliver that on the Theatre Royal stage."

What is your big number in this show?

"In Act I, all the girls come across the Rocky Mountain and the sea shore. My character relishes the opportunity and gets her sisters to play along in her fantasy of being 'Queens' far away from 'Mortal men', which of course, doesn't last."

Have you ever been to Penzance?

"No, and my geography is so terrible that I don't even know where it is without looking at a map."


Just A Quickie too.... with Heather Watts, who plays Mabel in The Pirates Of Penzance

Give a potted history of your involvement with York Opera, Heather.

“ I joined York Opera in 2007 when I first moved to York. I performed the role of Elsie Maynard in Yeomen Of The Guard, the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Olympia in the Tales of Hoffman portion of Tales Of Love last spring.”

Who are you playing in Pirates and how would you describe her character?

“I’m playing the role of Mabel. She’s a naive and silly girl who loves life and the sound of her own voice.”

What do you most enjoy about performing G&S?

“I love G&S because I love history and it’s a wonderful piece of Victorian art. I love it because the music is beautiful and the characters are tremendously fun. I leave every rehearsal with a huge smile on my face.”

What is your big number in this show?

“Poor Wand’ring One.”

Have you ever been to Penzance?

“I love Cornwall but I’ve never made it down to Penzance.”


• York Opera presents The Pirates Of Penzance at York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and Saturday matinee, 4.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at