It’s a pirate’s life for me!!
The Gilbert and Sullivan Players performing the classic, “The Pirates of Penzance” came to take the area by storm, little did they know the derecho was brewing up it’s own storm!
I have a huge respect for theatre, whether a film or live performance of some form. When I see things that I don’t love, I try not to judge too harshly because I know a lot of time and effort was put into the final product and especially with live theatre, there can be off nights or performances where things just didn’t click. I try to critique based on my love for theatre and cinema. Even if a performance may not be up to my own, personal standards, I can usually see where others will find it entertaining and I try to judge based on that and stay fairly neutral. Having said that, I want to say that based on my own taste and theatrical experience, both as a spectator and performer, there wasn’t one moment of “Pirates…” that didn’t make me smile! Truly, I enjoyed this show and not just from a mutual respect standpoint. I have seen The Gilbert and Sullivan Players perform before and they NEVER disappoint, no matter which iconic show they are enchanting me with.
This years selection for Wolf Trap, is no exception. Gilbert and Sullivan’s masterpiece transcends time, but this production takes the hilarity to another level. They used timely touches here and there, such as “Angry Bird” slippers on the Major-General, all done in good fun and more importantly, good taste! It’s the little things that just took me by surprise and delighted me all over again, such as silver top hats during a comically choreographed, “With Cat-Like Tread…”, that is expertly carried out, without getting carried away. The cast is a top-notch troupe that perform with such verve. They follow the script like it’s second nature, but still keep it fresh. They are well-seasoned and superb! The entire cast is putting on a show, whether they are the main characters, secondary players, or in the ensemble. The Major-General is, of course, a beloved character for those who know the show or are just familiar with the famous, “Model of a Modern Major-General” song, but whether you are familiar or not, this portrayal will delight all. James Mills dons the old-age make-up for this production exquisitely. His diction was astounding for his big song, but held true throughout the show. I don’t even think that I need to bother saying that the entire casts comedic timing was spot on, but there I just did! Jennifer Piacenti, as Isabel and David Macaluso as Samuel stand-out among the cast though, for their timing. If they could take their character that extra step without going too far, they did and it was brilliant! The Pirate King, expertly played by David Wannen is such a guilty pleasure! He plays a rock-star type villain that would make an awesome Captain Hook (Peter Pan) or Stacee Jaxx (Rock of Ages). I love watching him perform! Also of note is David Auxier as the Sergeant of Police, who endears himself to us immediately and proves to be another strong talent of the show. The male ensemble, as a whole, is fantastic and as a group has wonderful diction. The female ensemble was a bit hard to understand at times, but produced beautiful sound. Sarah Caldwell Smith as the ingenue, Mabel has a song-bird type of tone to her sweet soprano. While Angela Christine Smith as Ruth has a bawdy soprano and wit about her character that made her fun to watch. Another stand-out in the funny department is Amy Maude Helfer as Kate, her facial expressions alone, had me laughing!
NYGASP is a professional organization founded in 1974 and is a highly reputable company for it’s standard of excellence. Therefore, I don’t need to go into detail about the technical side of things. The costumes, lights, sets, wigs, everything is as you would expect a professional company to be, but I do have to say this this family of thespians has that extra something special and it shows throughout any of their productions. I highly recommend seeing any show they perform!
Production Grade: A++ Even the storm held off, until their standing ovation was over because it knew better!!
Venue Grade: A+, definitely the right place to this type of show, I only wish they would perform for more than two nights!
For other productions and dates for the NYGASP go to www.nygasp.org
For Wolf Trap’s calendar www.wolftrap.org