By Thom deMartino
“The Pirates of Penzance” has just finished its third run at the Festival Amphitheater in Garden Grove after being summoned back by popular demand. And while some may say it’s a challenge to take a century-plus old operetta and make it somehow topically and chronologically relevant, somehow, Shakespeare Orange County succeeded again.
Young Fredrick (Colin Martin) has been indentured to the boisterous Pirate King (Alex Bodrero) and his crew of merry miscreants for as long as he can remember, but at midnight, he gains his freedom: much to the chagrin of his fellow crew members, particularly Ruth (Krystin Crane), the “pirate maid of all work” who’d prefer to keep the handsome young man by her side. But Fredrick has never seen another woman other than Ruth — so when he catches a glimpse of a bevy of beautiful sisters frolicking in the sand and surf, he finds himself instantly smitten with the comely Mabel (Katie Perry), and she with him.
But the stuffy Major General Stanley (Duane Thomas), father to the group of young ladies, will certainly have something to say about one of his daughters — much less all of them — getting involved with a pirate, even a reformed one. What’s a young man in love to do? Surely, not turn on his former comrades?
“The Pirates of Penzance” has been a smashing success for the last two years at Shakespeare Orange County, and this third season has been no exception. It’s a rollicking fun show, taking a classic musical comedy and adding some modern touches, here and there.
The deliberate anachronisisms of the show are charming. “NEVER make fun of mermaids!” bellows one plucky daughter of the Major General, (played with precociousness by Genevive Flati), checking her sisters’ playfulness. “What do you call a bunch of Brits leaving the stage?” asks the pirate crew at one point — “Brexit!”
It’s also been excellent to see some familiar faces in the show, not only from the previous productions of “Pirates”, but from some of the other Shakespeare O.C. productions this summer. Colin Martin’s playfully naive but well-intentioned Fredrick was a far cry from the heavier role he played in “Henry IV” earlier in the season; Cora Riley, who played Miranda in “The Tempest”, put her remarkable vocal skills on display as Edith. And, of course, Krystin Crane’s Ruth and Alex Bodrero’s Pirate King captured the audiences’ hearts with their beautifully over-the-top antics.
While you may have missed this summer’s third run of Shakespeare Orange County’s hysterical “Pirates of Penzance”, it’s worth crossing your fingers for a fourth year of bawdy pirate fun.
“The Pirates of Penzance”, Colin Martin, Alex Bodrero and Katie Perry starred in this successful third year of the classic musical given modern flair at the Festival Amphitheatre, 12762 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840.