“Pirates of Penzance”, a musical by the Millersville University theatre and music departments, opened on November 1, 2012 at the Winter Center.
The show is a Gilbert and Sullivan comedy, originally written in the late 1800s. The music was tweaked nearly 100 years later by William Elliot for the New York Shakespeare Festival, where this rendition of the production originated.
The basic plot of the musical is that a young man, Frederic, decides that he must leave the Pirates of Penzance since his time for being a pirate expires when he turns 21.
Frederic decides that he must now become an enemy of the pirates, since they are thieves and vandals. After Frederic leaves, he sees, and falls in love with, Mabel. However, that is not the end of the pirates.
I viewed a rehearsal of the show the first day it moved into the Visual and Per forming Arts Center (VPAC) from various other rehearsal spots.
The cast was still adjusting to the space, causing movement to be a bit shaky at times. A piano had served as musical accompaniment, and all the house lights were on. It was very much a work-in-progress.
But something happened between the rehearsal in October and the finished show in November. It had become a highquality and polished production.
The cast had noticeably improved.
The singing was notches higher than it had been before.
Certain members of the cast had far better control of their voices and had grasped their songs admirably.
The choreography had also been polished, with the comedy clearly shining through in particular numbers.
The orchestra, costumes and set also brought the production to new heights. The orchestra was located on stage, partially hidden in a space behind raised walkways. However, Dr. Mark A. Boyle, director of the orchestra, could be seen wearing a pirate costume, baton in hand.
The orchestra did a fantastic job with all the numbers. The decision to have the music and theatre department both do the show was clearly a good one.
The costumes were excellent. When the pirates first disembark from their ship during the first song “Pour, O Pour the Pirate Sherry,” the costumes are striking; the colors of the multiple costumes blend perfectly and look magnificent against the set.
The costumes for the Sisters, when they first come to the island for a picnic, are also incredibly well-crafted.
The Major General’s uniform was another example of the fine costuming in this show.
Victor’s Capecce’s set also worked well for the production. The walkways allowed the cast to interact with the stage more than a regular flat stage would have allowed.
The pirate ship was an especially good set piece, and sailed on and offstage at different times throughout the musical. The backdrop during the first act was blue, giving a sunny seaside atmosphere to the show.
During the second act, strung lights were hung at the back of the stage since the scenes took place in the evening.
The entire cast did well with the show. There were, however, a few standout members of the cast.
Ryan-Brigid Mento, as the Sergeant of Police, did an excellent job, with many of the shows’ best moments occurring when he was on stage.
His facial expressions were very entertaining and he was incredibly fun to watch.
Paul Drellock-Hughes was another standout member of the cast as the Pirate King. He was suave, but funny, with fantastic stage presence and a great voice.
Kayla Klase, as Mabel, also gave a great performance. She was one of the best singers in the show, and a good actress as well.
Logan Ressler, as Frederic, also had good vocal work, and interpreted his character well.
The choreography in the show was also fun. The policemen provided extremely entertaining moments as they bumbled about the stage.
The Pirates generally injected toughness to their brigade, which also carried into their ensemble numbers.
One especially good ensemble, sung by the Pirates, was “With Cat-Like Tread, Upon Our Prey We Steal,” where the pirates are going to get back at the Major General. The number had lots of energy, and the Pirate ensemble did well engaging the audience.
The Sisters are also comical, making their first appearance on stage doing a dance with umbrellas. They also use their fans to great comedic effect when they try to ward off Frederic, who, somewhat unsuccessfully, introduces himself to them.
The show was a professional, well-done production. The music was great, the cast seemed to be enjoying themselves and all the elements worked admirably well together.
Hopefully, we will be seeing many other productions where both the music and theatre departments collaborate on another quality musical.