From the first notes of the overture, Bloomington Music Works production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre is sprightly and joyful.
Thursday night Douglas Barley was the stoic "slave of duty" and tenor, Frederic. He’s the lad whose birthday falls on the 29th of February. It’s typical of the the "topsy-turvy" world or Gilbert and Sullivan that this causes serious problems. Clair Wilcher was his addled nurse maid, Ruth, that "remains of a fine woman." In a neat little twist, director David Wade has Wilcher appear first as Queen Victoria. Robert Taylor cut a dashing and well sung figure as the Pirate King, a man who "sinks a few more ships its true, than the well bred monarch is forced to do." Sarah Dionne was very accurate and winsome with the warbling over the top coluratura of Mabel. Chuck Macklin was indeed quite the model of a modern major general. In one of Gilbert’s typical digs at society, Major General Stanley has an enormous range of knowledge on all subjects, but those relating to the contemporary practice of his own profession. Jean Paul-Etienne was a duck walking Sergeant of Police.
Stagings of The Pirates of Penzance have varied over the years from rather staid, stand up and sing, productions to the famously zany Joseph Papp staging with Kevin Kline. The Bloomington Music Works production does a nice job of letting the principals sing while the chorus does zany. The inventive choreography is by director David Wade along with Molly Diemer and Nick Pupillo.
Musically the show is assured and dramatically it works well. Sue Hartin conducts.
The Bloomington Music Works production of of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance plays tonight and Saturday at eight at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre.