By Thom deMartino II
Pretty spry, for a 137-year-old operetta.
Directed by Peter Uribe, “The Pirates of Penzance” is the tale of young Fredric (Colin Martin), newly freed from his indentured servitude to a group of rowdy, yet gentle-hearted pirates (with a soft-spot for orphans,) led by the boisterous Pirate King (Alex Bodereo.) Released from his obligations, the naive Fredric ops to quest for true love, shortly afterwards stumbling upon a bevy of bathing beauties, where he chances across the beautiful Mabel (Jenaha McLearn): the two are instantly smitten.
But Mabel’s father, Major-General Stanley (Rick Golson) is having none of it, refusing to let a pirate (former or otherwise,) wed any of his daughters. And since the Pirate King and the rest of his well-meaning miscreants can’t help but meddle in Fredric’s affairs, the two “families” find themselves on a collision-course of comedic proportions.
By popular demand, “Pirates” has returned to the Shakespeare Orange County in Garden Grove for a limited engagement, after wildly successful and sold-out performances last summer. While the set is distinctly minimalist, that only focuses the audience’s attention on the slapstick in the foreground. There are numerous stand-out performances throughout the show: from Bodereo’s bawdy Pirate King, who commandeers whatever scene he’s in, to Martin’s comedically awkward but well-intentioned Fredric, to McLearn’s balletic Mabel, who’s beatific voice astonishes with an elegant strength.
Arguably though, the show’s choreography may be the subtlest star, with excellent numbers performed by stars and chorus (under the direction of Amelia Barron), as well as the charming anachronistic touches of more modern-day music periodically slipped in (when you have a sweet octogenarian in the audience clapping along to an 80’s Adam Ant song, you know it’s something special.)
While the performance clocks in at over two hours (perhaps an eternity for some of our social media-obsessed culture,) it certainly doesn’t feel like it: almost as if an occult hand has sped up the clock, leaving the audience still hungering for more shenanigans from the Pirate King and crew, more exploration of Fredric and Mabel’s budding romance, and more dance numbers by the Major-General’s daughters (note the quirky redhead with the snorkel.)
“The production treats Gilbert and Sullivan’s timeless classic with great respect and little reverence, celebrating every ounce of rollicking silliness it can muster,” says director Peter Uribe. “Hopefully this will help a modern audience with little or no exposure to operettas laugh their way through a sweet, innocent, romantic and charmingly funny evening.”
More than a century old, yet still vital, the Shakespeare Orange County’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” promises to please theater-goers of all ages.
“The Pirates of Penzance”, Alex Bodrero, Colin Martin and Jenaha McLearn star in this engaging and boisterous production of the classic musical. Playing from Aug. 18-28 at the Festival Amphitheatre, 12762 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840. Call (714) 590-1575 for ticketing information. Appropriate for all ages.
Categories: Arts & Leisure