There was great singing in waves at the Gilbert and Sullivan (G&S) Youth Company’s mini-production of the very popular The Pirates of Penzance. The production was comprised of primary, secondary and college students, who performed the tongue-twisting libretto with great care and respect. Each performer carefully enunciated every punny word and phrase, so the audience could appreciate the genius of W.S. Gilbert. It’s not “orphan” that you get to relish every single delicious word of the very funny libretto.
Ably accompanied by Danielle Drobny on piano, and lovingly directed by Pamela Leighton-Bilik, who moved the large cast and chorus around the stage with ease, this production offered the audience a chance to see and hear some of our area’s up and coming young singers. Ian Taylor, as Frederick, sang in a clear and beautiful tenor. Matt Sartucci, as the patriarchal Pirate King, commanded the stage every time he stepped on the stage. His wonderful baritone rang out as he sang a rousing rendition of “I am a pirate king”. Chani Werely, a wonderful soprano, was dead-on as the tough-as-nails Ruth, as she delivered “When Fred’ric was a little lad”, and she harmonized beautifully with Ian Taylor on”Oh! false one, you have deceiv’d me”.
The two well-known showstoppers of Pirates… were delivered by Jordan Alexander Li, who will be a freshman this fall at Churchill High School, who knocked the socks off the pitter-pattering “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” As he sang the tongue-twister faster and faster and faster, the crowd went crazier and crazier. (Jordan’s kid brother Jacob, a 4th grader, joined his brother onstage in the ensemble).
But, the performance which really received the loudest applause was the stunning and gorgeous rendition of “”Poor wand’ring one”, by 15 year-old Kelsey McDonnell, who glided up and down the scales with ease, singing like a veteran opera singer. It’s such a difficult “aria” to sing, and she nailed it. (See Joel’s Musical Fringe Stealers, Part 1, to learn more about Kelsey.
Kelsey and Ian’s duet with Ian of “Oh, here is love, and here is truth”, was sheer beauty, and was the highlight of Act II for me. Special kudos to Alexander Bourzutschky and James Beans, who played the loveable Sergeant of Police and Policeman Edward. Their performance of ” When a felon’s not engaged in his employment” was hysterical, and stopped the show – twice!
It was a wonderful ride on the high seas, and proved once again that Pi-rates can be nice guys, and love will always win in the end, even though the waters may be rocky at first. . It’s always more fun when a production is well-sung and directed with love and respect to the material, and everyone on the stage and in the audience are having a great time!
The Pirates of Penzance
Produced by Marsha Boymel and Joanne S. Sperling
Music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert.
Directed by Pamela Leighton-Bilik
Reviewed by Joel Markowitz