The Pirates of Penzance is one of the silliest and most musically demanding musicals of all time. Vocally it requires the chops of opera and the dexterity of an auctioneer. Comically it requires split-second timing and delivery.
I have seen the production three or four times and this month’s run at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre is pure fun.
Anne Eisendrath is the perfect ingenue. With a voice that blithely dances on arpeggios far above high-C, she flirts shamelessly with her true love, Frederic, and captivates us all. Hunter Ryan Herdlicka plays the part of Frederic, easily winning hearts with his boyish charm and musicality. One of Seattle’s favorites, Anne Allgood, is a delightful Ruth, playing Frederic’s nursemaid turned pirate; and Brandon O’Neill is glorious as the Pirate King.
And then there is David Pichette who is adorable as Major-General Stanley, both in body and spirit. His rendition of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” displays the outer boundaries of vocal fluency and diction. I love the pauses when he searches for a rhyme in the nonsensical language.
And that brings me to another point — the language is brilliant in this musical and it has taken me multiple times of seeing it to recognize that.
Not only did Gilbert & Sullivan make it fun and fast and ridiculously silly, they embedded puns and play-on-words throughout, making it much more complex that it appears to be on the surface.
If you are looking for a great evening out that will make you laugh and sing and want to dance like (or with) a pirate, go see The Pirates of Penzance. It shows through August 4 at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
Photos by Mark Kitaoka and Tracy Martin.