BWW Reviews: PIRATES Invades with a Boatload of Fun
The Stowe Theater Guild's delightful presentation of the beloved Gilbert & Sullivan classic, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, is now playing at the Town Hall Theatre in Stowe, Vermont. The story opens as Frederic (James Blanchard) is released from his apprenticeship to a band of pirates notorious for their kindness to orphans. Having never seen a young woman before, Frederic is enchanted by the daughters of Major-General Stanley (George Walker), particularly Mabel (Taryn Noelle). But Major-General Stanley and the Pirate King (Patrick Clow) don't see eye to eye, and Frederic and Mabel's love isn't smooth sailing. Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Frederic's childhood nurse, Ruth (Sebastian Ryder) reveals one surprising secret after another.
Blanchard as the earnest, duty-bound Frederic sings particularly well, and gives the role a wonderfully naive quality. Noelle's Mabel is strong and confident, a nice contrast to Blanchard's innocent Frederic. Clow's portrayal of the Pirate King is physical comedy at its finest, and Walker delivers a laugh-out-loud-funny Major-General Stanley (and an impeccable "I am the very model of a modern Major General"). Ryder's tipsy Ruth also gets a fair share of laughs.
This production benefits from excellent ensemble performers, as well. Juliet Walsh (Edith), Kristin Silverman (Kate), Gabrielle Mailloux (Isabel), and Sarah Venooker are enchanting as the Major General's daughters, and portions of the score that are usually sung by an entire women's chorus sound just right on these four voices. In addition to its strong singing, the male ensemble brings rollicking energy to the band of pirates and bumbling hilarity to the police force. Sam Lewis as Samuel and Matt Pierce as the Sergeant of Police are particularly entertaining.
There's never a stagnant moment. Margaret Garofalo's stage direction and choreography find all the right comedic opportunities, and Ashley O'Brien's musical direction makes this production a joy to hear. Both newcomers to operetta and die-hard Gilbert & Sullivan fans will relish this evening of fun at Stowe's Town Hall Theatre.
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE plays through October 12, 2013. For tickets and information, visit www.stowetheatre.com.
For trivia geeks: Which song was lifted from Gilbert & Sullivan's RUDDIGORE for the 1980 Joseph Papp production of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and the 2002 Broadway production of THOROUGLY MODERN MILLIE? You'll hear it in this Stowe Theater Guild production!
Photo credit: Jonathan Couture Photography