Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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It seems to be getting late earlier

Went to Lyric Theater's sing-along night for their production of The Pirates of Penzance. There was lots of win, but also lots of fail. Michael Sommese is super as Frederic. Solid voice, good looking, solid stage presence.  Cara Arellano fits the part of Ruth to a T. Greg Anderson's Pirate King is enjoyable, his big phony beard is not (not his fault). The rest of the leads are adequate. Unfortunately, Alicia von Kugelgen does not quite have the range to sing Mabel,  but when she is singing in her range she sounds excellent.

It was great to see seamoose as a pirate.

Some of the win was in the directing of the first few scenes. There are lots of clever physical bits which added a lot to the tone of the show. All through the show it was clear the direction was "listen to the words" and there was a lot of acting going on, as opposed to just walking around the stage singing. Some of the fail came when choreography became too complex, dizzying, and Just Plain Stupid, as in the Major General's lulabye, where the Major General performs a parody of a ballet which was embarrassing to watch. Maybe more so because my seat was in the front row, center. Another fail is rare in local musical theater - the male ensemble is far more attractive than the female ensemble.

In the win category is a fine orchestra. In the fail column is a conductor whose choice of tempo seemed unpredictable. The Major General's patter song was taken far too quickly, and the policeman's comic lament was like a dirge.

I've been in two productions of Pirates, and never realized how poor a choice it is for a sing-along. There is very little to sing along with in the first act if you're male, and only brief responses in the second act, till the rousing finale.

The biggest fail was Cheryl Blalock's concept design of setting the show in 1717,  in the Caribbean for Act I and North Carolina in Act II. Much of the humor of the show depends on it being set in Penzance, England during Queen Victoria's reign. By shifting the action to a time and place where there were real pirates, she missed the point of at least half the plot, and by changing the monarch to King George III she completely destroyed the punch line.

Back on the win side, there's an amusing Easter Egg at the end.

If you have never seen a live production of Pirates, don't start with this one. If you are a G&S fan, it's worth catching for flashes of brilliant blocking and acting, and seeing how much fun the pirates are having. It's playing at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose through this weekend.

Tags: review

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