Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Reviews: Bristol's PIRATES OF PENZANCE - 'Tis a Glorious Thing to be a Pirate King!'

As one might expect, there are pirates; wonderfully loopy pirates as well as the daughters of a major general of whom the bunch of sea-faring hooligans plan to woo and marry. Then there's the squadron of scaredy-cat dancing British Bobbies who would rather dance than fight.

It's all gloriously silly, a rambunctious romp on the high seas, the beach and the not-so-scary grave yard /chapel entrance of the Major General's home.

W.S. Gilbert (book) and Arthur Sullivan (music) are responsible for this delightfully complex creation that has captured audiences' funny bones for so long. The score is pure light entertainment with lyrics to challenge the most seasoned performers and about 30 songs in this high seas adventure. The first being the theme song for this swashbuckler, "The Overture", "Oh, Better Far To Live And Die", (better known as "I Am The Pirate King") to the treacherously hysterical tongue twister "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General".

There is not a weak member of this cast! First to the men. From the suave, robust baritone of Nick Cordero as the Pirate King, who was seen on Broadway in "Rock of Ages" to the young handsome Frederic played by Patrick Dunn with a glorious tenor voice that melts maidens' hearts. "Oh, Is There Not One Maiden Breast" and the duet "Stay Fred'ric,Stay!" are beautifully done.

Our Major General Larry Cahn is simply superb and superbly simple! Cahn's numerous stage and film credits are demonstrated in his animated delivery. The very talented Julian Alvarez plays the sergeant of the bumbling British Bobbies in a well synchronized set of the silliest antics. The ladies are equally equipped to take on the task. The incredibly talented April Woodall plays Ruth with great enthusiasm and experience that would rival Angela Lansbury.

The merry maidens of the Major General sing and dance and create enough nonsense to effectively attract the pirate crew. Our Mabel, Maria Failla boasts European credits including "Extraordinary Promise as an Actor/Singer at the Kurt Weill Foundation 2012". Her voice is flawless and beautiful.

Set designs by Julia C. Lee are modest allowing the actors and action to take the focal point. The ruined chapel in Act 2 takes on a subtle, pale shadowy backdrop laced with delicate flowers and musical notes which are picked up nicely by Light Designer Deborah Constantine. Speaking of music, the 12 piece orchestra is well equipped to handle this intrigue score.

Artistic Director Keith Baker has directed over 200 productions in his career, 60 + at the Bristol and it shows. His Pirates of Penzance soars and flows nicely.

Pirates of Penzance play at the Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliff St. Bristol Pa. through April 28. For tickets and more information, visit or call 215.785.0100

Photo Credit: Bristol Riverside Theater

Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatre goer in Philadelphia? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.

Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories

From This Author - Pati Buehler