A new and original comic Opera by Messrs. W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, entitled the “Pirates of Penzance, or Love and Duty. It is amazing how two dramatic writers have mastered the ability to amuse the public in such an original manner. This opera had its premiere on December 31, 1879, at the Fifth AvenueTheater in New York with Arthur Sullivan conducting. It opened on April 3, 1880, at the Opera Comique in London and ran for 363 performances.
When one thinks of Pirates of Penzance many tend to immediately recollect the movie depicted from this play. Visions of Kevin Kline playing the Pirate King, Linda Ronstadt playing Mabel, Angela Lansbury as Ruth and George Rose plays the Major-General. The adaptation of this script was very true to Gilbert & Sullivan style. Varying degrees of comedic breaks, action scenes, and dance sequences definitely kept my interest.
Although this play originated in 1879 the director did not seem to have any difficulty keeping the original historical plot and at the same time blending in a bit of modern themes and characteristics. Several words were added that weren’t part of Gilbert’s original script. It kept the adaptation novel and interesting.
Complete with lessons of courage and honor this play demonstrates with humor the lengths one man will go to in order to fulfill his dutiful and unusually contracted obligation.
In this case the participants were not quite as seasoned as those mentioned above. The play itself was quite clever and entertaining. Varying degrees of acting and vocal ability made for a very diverse cast. Meshing an 1879 play with Millennium type humor is no small feat. The scenes were concise; costumes were extremely original; and the cast was particularly enthusiastic. What imperfections may have occurred within the play was overshadowed by these above-mentioned strengths.
Comedic plays tend to be quite challenging. The ability to master the art of comedic timing is a rarity. The character analysis in this performance was descriptive where more emphasis was necessary to the story line and lingered a bit where more detail was not imperative to follow the direction of the characters. Overall the depth and examination each actor utilized for their own individual character was in line with the script they were given to work with.
Expecting to see a complete operatic performance due to the fact that several words were added that weren’t part of Gilbert’s original script it took some getting used to.
But while the words and music are essentially untouched, the choreographers and set designers had a field day. This production is stuffed to the brim with ingenious little moments of physical humor. It’s so rich, in fact, that you’ll notice something new with every viewing.
The music is wonderful, the lyrics clever and complex, and the humor makes it hysterically funny. It one of the finest and certainly most under-recognized musicals of all time. Although the performers were not veterans in any way, the performance was well rehearsed and came across so on the stage.
The actress’ performance that played Mabel was a bit muffled. At times her voice was inaudible and unpronounced. It was a distraction within the play. Overall the songs are performed competently and confidently, and they’re not easy songs. Arthur Sullivan’s majestic score is alternately beautiful and rapid, and it’s not easy to sing either. The performances overall had a natural and relaxed flow throughout the performance.
Thankfully, W. S. Gilbert’s clever lyrics are pretty well preserved in this performance. This allowed the actors great flexibility in their actions and physical comedic performances. At times some fight scenes tended to be a bit overacted but this was not necessarily a distraction. When you consider depth and the humor this play was originated with it is easy to see how character actors can get carried away in their own performance.
There were varying degrees of action, dance scenes, comedic performances, and romantic challenges. Each act was handles with distinct diversity and caress. There was an even balance of severity in which was placed into each scene by the individual performers. The acting itself was very fresh and invigorating. .
The interpretations were modern yet they still kept the original heart of the play in the foreground. Relationships, friendships, and love were the underlying emotions within this performance. The ensemble skillfully undertook each character with delicate care and respectfully balanced humor and sincerity to accommodate each character distinctly. The cast worked wonderfully as a team working and playing off the audience as opportunities were presented. The participants in this performance, although quite inexperienced, had quite an enjoyable time performing this comedic adaptation of Pirates. The actor playing the Pirate King showed off his stunning, powerful voice and agility in addition to his quirky sense of humor hilariously flexible. Comparing this actress to other females who have conquered this role typically noticing the successful female performers voices sound just as good on the ultra high notes as most of her male counterparts can on the low ones.