BWW Review: THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Lyric Opera Of Kansas City
Lyric Opera of Kansas City completes its 2016-2017 season with an inspired exercise in silliness from the composing and writing team of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. 1879's "The Pirates of Penzance or, The Slave of Duty" rests on an amusing, yet unlikely premise. The result is confusing and bemusing, but always delightful.
The time and place is the late 19th century England during the reign of Queen Victoria. Frederic (Tenor - Jonathan Johnson) has just completed an apprenticeship aboard an 18th century Pirate ship delivered directly from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at any one of several Disney theme parks. Leading this truly motley crew is the Pirate King (Bass-Baritone - Kevin Burdette) who does a passing impression of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Frederic has been apprenticed in error to the pirates. Frederic's nurse Ruth (Contralto - Margaret Gawrysiak) has misheard the apprenticeship instructions. He was instead to have been apprenticed to a harbor "pilot." Sounds similar, eh? Being an upstanding young man, Frederic was an excellent pirate apprentice, but now freed of his obligation, he has sworn to have his former shipmates arrested.
Handsome young Frederic is put ashore only to run into a bevy of twelve young maidens cavorting on the beach. Frederic, of course, is smitten on first sight with one particular young lady named Mabel (Soprano- Anya Matanovic). He has never seen a woman other than Nurse Ruth. Ruth, at age 47, is smitten with young Frederic and is something of a cougar.
The girls are all sisters, daughters to a retired Major-General (Baritone - Robert Gibby Brand) named Stanley. Major-General Stanley is the "model of a modern Major General," who loves his daughters almost as much as he loves his flask and his opium pipe.
Frederic organizes a raid on the pirates with the local police sergeant (Ben Wagner) and his band of mostly Keystone Cops. Frederic is visited by the Pirate King and Nurse Ruth prior to the most public raid. They convince the young man that since he was born on February 29th (Leap Year Day),his obligation to the pirates will not end until 1940 on his 21st birthday.