Pirates of Penzance (Abridged): a mix of modern and traditional

Pirates of Penzance (Abridged)

When I was almost a teenager, my older cousin Jacquie took me to The Pirate Movie.  I loved it!  She even made me a taped copy of her copy of the album with all the music from the movie, which I listened to over and over again. (I may even still have it somewhere).  Years later, I figured out that The Pirate Movie was a spoof of Gilbert and Sullivan's famous operetta The Pirates of Penzance

Clearly the director of Arts Umbrella Musical Theatre Troupe is also a fan of The Pirate Movie.  The music is all recorded not live – and I think that some of the song adaptations are directly from The Pirate Movie soundtrack. Others are clearly recordings and original songs from Gilbert and Sullivan version of the musical (such as “Poor Wand'ring One”) ... which makes this production a bit disjointed musically.

I'm disappointed – but not surprised – to see that the production is overwhelmingly performed by teenage girls. Only two boys are in the cast – one as our hero Frederic, the other as a pirate. However, I must say that the Sara Shahnazarian's performance as the Pirate King is to die for!  Her swagger is astonishing.  Franco Celli as young Frederic is also solid.  All the performers are clearly having a great time – especially with the more modern The Pirate Movie songs and various bits of broad comedic business.

If you've been waiting for the new television show “Glee” coming this fall, here's your chance to see a real-life musical comedy performance by some excellent young performers.  However, it does make me wonder if we don't need some new musicals written with lots of parts for teenage girls. Any playwrights out there interested in such a project?

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By Allyson McGrane