A funny thing happened at the Lakewood Playhouse; Gilbert and Sullivan collided with Mack Sennett and The Pirates of Penzance was reborn.
Director Barry Johnson has ingeniously combined the distant past with the earlier past and made a mighty fine production of the current play at the Lakewood Playhouse, Ollie!
As if the story of a young man mistakenly apprenticed to an inept band of pirates isn’t funny enough, add the fact that Frederick, the Luckless, was born on February 29.
Therefore, as he reaches his 21st birthday and prepares to leave his unwanted “employer,” he finds he is actually only five-years-old! Now, add that this most unfortunate young man happens to fall in love with one of the 13 fetching wards of the Very Modern Major-General.
Johnson has staged this show with everything from Moliere to Ben Turpin to John Travolta! All this including memorable songs and hijinks with pirates and wards bounding about the stage chasing or being chased by each other or the local constabulary!
Music Director Jeff Anderson keeps the music rolling and everyone on key while they traipse around in Frances Rankos’ costumes on Judy Cullen’s set, which is a combination of a Victorian stage, the shore and chapel ruins.
With a cast of 28, it is impossible to mention specifics about all of the able actors. However, it must be said that of the wards who make up the women’s chorus, Olivia Seward, Raevynn Leach, Amilya Hill, Maya Fein, Michelle Robinson, Kendra Phillips, Julie Drummond, Lauren Wood and Cynthia Bettes, each voice creates a clear, harmonious background. The men’s chorus, composed of Christopher Cline, Jim Patrick, Steve Tarry, Galen Wicks, Kyle Johnson, Gary Lichty, Michael Dresdner, Josh Johnson and Alexander Barnes, are equally harmonious with a couple of “Aarrgghhs” thrown in for effect.
In the secondary roles, three more of the wards are played by Elizabeth Richmond, Isabel, and Samantha Underwood as Kate; these two are equally talented with beautiful voices and good acting.
Keri Costello is Edith, another ward. She is a charming actress with a singing voice far beyond her years. In a word, “Brava!”
Brett Youngquist as the Pirate King not only belts out his titled song but does so while on a quasi swing. Roger Iverson is Samuel, his lieutenant. Iverson’s voice is equally as demanding. Both act as well as they sing, and that’s saying a lot.
Dalton Shotwell is the Sergeant of Police. His voice has the deep rich tones the role demands but it is a bit soft even in this intimate space. However, his deadpan acting style and timing is superb.
Sibyl Adams is Ruth, the Pirate Maid-of-all-work and the cause of our dilemma. Not only is her singing especially good, she shows a wonderful comedic talent.
Nathan Allen Barnes sings Frederic, our woeful apprentice. His acting is good; his singing prowess is dynamic. Each note, each word, is clear, clean and moving, filled with understanding of his role.
Jenny Shotwell is Mabel, the final ward and the heroin of the opera. This lovely young woman is an accomplished actress who possesses a superlative voice. When she performs “Poor Wandering One,” Shotwell hits one glass-shattering note after another. She is fantastic and greatly appreciated by her co-performers. While waiting in the lobby for their entrances, cast members not on stage applauded right along with the audience.
Ted Fredericks is “The Very Model of a Modern Major-General” and when the audience hears Fredericks sing that song, they are amazed at his ability of getting so many words out of his mouth is such short time so eloquently! His whimsical portrayal of the role is perfect.
“The Pirates of Penzance” continues at The Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, next to the Pierce Transit Depot, through June 17 each Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.; there is also a Pay-What-You-Can performance scheduled for Thursday, May 24. The June 15 show is an Actor’s Benefit performance.
For more information or to make reservations call the theatre at (253) 588-0042 or go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.
This is the first opera at Lakewood Playhouse. Don’t miss is. It is one of the best shows ever mounted at this theatre of notable productions. So dig out your tri-corner hats, your Jolly Rogers and eye-patches and make your reservations for a delightful evening of theatre before “The Pirates of Penzance” sails over the horizon and you are left weeping on the shore.
Submitted by Lynn Geyer