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Nov. 25, 2004
From left: Peter Wisan as
Frederic, Jordan Matteoli, Ben Wisan, and Nathaniel Wisan as
pirates. Bob Service as the
Major-General. Darcy Daughtry as Isabel, Essie Canty Bertain
as Mabel, Joan Zellner as Edith.
It is a glorious thing -- to be a Pirate
by ELLIN BELTZ
THE PIRATES of Penzance was the second comic operetta written by Gilbert
and Sullivan, masters of the form. Its premier in New York City
in 1879 -- with Sullivan himself directing and changing the script
up to the last second -- was an immediate hit, and it has remained
incredibly popular up to the present day with many well known
songs, characters and costumes that will carry local theatergoers
back to Ruddigore and other local productions.
The story opens on a
February 29th, as a group of rather tame swashbucklers (Anders
Carlson, Vince Farrar, Matthew Wisan, Ben Wisan, Nathaniel Wisan,
and Jonathan Wisan) are wishing their youngest member a happy
21st year with a round of sherry and a song. But young Frederic
(Peter Wisan) is despondent -- he is about to leave the pirate
band and turn them in for their roguery.
Mark Alan Johnston proves that
it is indeed a glorious thing to be the Pirate King, while chameleon
chanteuse Jolene Hayes portrays Ruth, the hard-of-hearing maid
who got Frederic into this mess in the first place and is trying
to get him to marry her.
In the nick of time, a group
of young ladies appear (Joan Zoellner, Kim Haile, Darcy Daughtry,
Wanda Stapp, Jennifer Radke, Theresa Ireland, Victoria Blasdell).
None of them is interested in wooing Frederic, except the youngest,
Mabel, played by an amazing colatura soprano, Essie Bertain.
Their father, the (modern) Major General (Bob Service) arrives
just in time to save them from the clutches of the pirate band.
They escape because he lies, claiming to be an orphan to get
the kind-hearted pirates' sympathy.
Being a man of honor, the Major
General is despondent about deceiving the pirates -- even if
it was to save his daughters. They try to console him while the
policemen (Jordan Matteoli, Tyler Rich, Peter Burgess, Nathan
Pierce and Brian Walker) dash to and fro trying to catch the
pirates who are trying to break into their villa.
The North Coast Rep production
is a gem, in part because, as director Dianne Zuleger, a Humboldt
County native, explained, "We have some of the best voices
on the North Coast. The cast is diverse, very talented, and very
entertaining." She's right about the cast and their voices;
in particular Mabel, Ruth and the Pirate King give very strong
performances, and just watching the Major General's daughters'
varying reactions to each new twist is a show unto itself. However,
the show stealer for comic buffo goes to Policeman Brian Walker
who will leave you limp with laughter with his Chaplinesque antics
and rubber face.
A marathon dance hall piano
accompaniment is provided by Eddie Wisan, hair and makeup by
ReNey Smith, set and light design by Dan Mullins and costumes,
including those reused wholesale from Ruddigore, by Marcia
Hutson and Vicki Charlton with Jennifer Trustem stage managing.
The Pirates of Penzance runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through
Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. with one Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Dec. 5, at
North Coast Repertory Theatre, 300 Fifth Street, Eureka. Call
442-NCRT for open-seating tickets as soon as you can. My guess
is the show will sell out -- it deserves a SRO audience for its
entire run. Arrive early for the best seats and keep your feet
and stuff out of the aisles -- you'll see why!
Dell'Arte's 23rd annual holiday
show offers a Dell'Artian take on a classic children's story.
Three Pigs: A Comic Tail with a Twist opens at
the Carlo Theatre in Blue Lake at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26
and Saturday, Nov. 27, then moves to Humboldt State University's
Van Duzer Theatre Sunday, Nov. 28 before roving countywide with
shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at Fortuna River Lodge, Friday,
Dec. 10 at McKinleyville High School, and Sunday, Dec. 12 at
the Adorni Center in Eureka. Donations of non-perishable food
items will be given to local food banks. Tickets can be picked
up at Wildberries Marketplace and Coast Central Credit Union,
who, along with Target Corporation, underwrite the free performances.
Paid performances of Three
Pigs at the Carlo open at 7:30 p.m. from Thursday, Dec. 16
through Sunday, Dec. 19. Call Dell'Arte for reservations at 668-5663.
Ferndale Repertory Theatre's
holiday production, The World of Willie Wonka,
opens Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. following a gallery reception for the
Empire Squared artists, which starts at 6 p.m. The show continues
Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 19. Call 786-LIVE for tickets
and more information.
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