Friday, August 7, 2015

Should You See the Ordway’s Pirates of Penzance? A One-question Quiz

The question is this: Do you like to have fun?

Brandon O'Neill and the pirates come ashore
photos: Molly Shields
If you said yes, then you should absolutely see The Pirates of Penzance, showing now through August 16 at the Ordway.

There is so much to love about this production that it’s difficult to know where to begin! The 18-piece orchestra kicks it off with a sprightly overture, by the end of which we have already met the pirates, and the pace never lets up. 

Anne Eisendrath singing down
the house as Mabel
As the Pirate King, Brandon O’Neill combines swagger and silliness in perfect proportions, and the rest of the cast follows suit. Hunter Ryan Herdlicka as Frederic has a beautiful voice and an appealing earnestness, while the ragtag pirates have excellent timing. They execute director James Rocco’s choreography with pinpoint precision, leading to big laughs.

Soon, the ladies flounce onto the stage in all their pastel finery, including Mabel, beautifully sung by Anne Eisendrath, who is well-matched with Herdlicka’s Frederic. As Major General Stanley, Gary Briggle is wonderfully pompous, and Kersten Rodau shines as Frederic’s devoted servant Ruth. Dieter Bierbrauer and his company of police bring even more hilarity, while dressed as Canadian Mounties. Why? Why not?

Brandon O'Neill as the Pirate King and Kersten Rodau as Ruth
explain a very silly dilemma to Hunter Ryan Herdlicka's Frederic.
The talented and hard-working cast run and dance continuously across the storybook set (designed by Tom Struge), singing, dancing, and swordfighting their hearts out for just over two hours. If the script and songs have been shortened, I didn’t miss anything.

The story, slight to begin with, is just an excuse for the songs and silliness. Every last cast member has moments to shine, and watching their work in the background is very entertaining. Most, if not all, of the cast participates in some way in the excellent stage combat, which you can read about here.
I can’t say enough about this production. I cannot imagine how it could be any better.

Any show that makes the audience laugh, smile, spontaneously clap, and cheer is to be experienced by as many people as possible in the short time it's playing.

What are you waiting for? Go!