The Pirates of Penzance – Marriott Theatre

Book by W. S. GilbertThe Pirates of Penzance at Marriott Theatre

Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan

Directed by Dominic Missimi

Music Director Ryan T. Nelson

Choreography by Matt Raftery

At Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire

Pirates hijack delighted audience

Dominic Missimi has justifiably been called a force of nature. That’s because Missimi is as talented as a director as he was as a brilliant professor at Northwestern University (personally attested to after taking one of his engaging continuing education courses.)    While he has directed more than 30 musicals at Marriott, 80 at Northwestern and won innumerable awards, he states that Pirates of Penzance is his first Gilbert and Sullivan. We certainly hope it is not the last. What a treat this production is, deservedly getting a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation on opening night.

Of course the plot, as to be expected, is deliciously outrageous. Naive, innocent orphan Frederic (Omar Lopez-Cepero) has reached the age of 21 and is being released from indenture to a shipload of equally orphaned pirates.  He sings that he loves his comrades as individuals but finds them despicable as a group. Therefore, he pledges to wipe them out in future.

The Pirates of Penzance at Marriott Theatre

Unfortunately, the only woman he has ever seen is his father’s servant, plump, elderly Ruth (Arlene Robertson) who brought him to the ship when she mistakenly misinterpreted the word pilot as the word pirate and set him on this unhappy course when he was only eight. She assures him that she is beautiful in the hopes that we will wed her, and although he has never seen another, he is dubious. And then, he sees another — actually seven others, the giggling, pastel-clad daughters of the Major General Stanley (Ross Lehman), and falls for lovely Mabel (Patricia Noonan).

The Pirates of Penzance at Marriott Theatre

And so Act I, opening with the swashbuckling pirates, led by their wonderfully vivid, athletic Pirate King (Kevin Earley), takes off to tell the tale. What could go wrong? We must wait for the hilarious complication in the second act. Meanwhile,  Lehman steals the show with his dynamic delivery of one of the most famous songs: the rapid-paced, tongue twisting “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General:”

 I am the very model of a modern Major-General,

I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,

I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical

From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical

I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,

I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,

About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

 Not only does the audience hear and enjoy the original lyrics, but they are treated to a modern stanza which includes references to Steppenwolf, Goodman, and even Chicago critics Chris Jones and Hedy Weiss — much to everyone’s amusement and delight.

The Pirates of Penzance at Marriott Theatre

And then — the complication! Frederic is a leap-year baby. His indenture did not promise freedom after 21 years, but after 21 birthdays. He has only had five!

How will it be resolved? If you did not see the answer at the Hypocrites version of Pirates last year, you get a second chance now. In fact, even if you did see their fine production, this one is so different it is well worth attending

The whole ensemble is terrific with strong singing, exceptional performances, and amazing choreography designed by Matt Raftery.  Especial Kudos to Andrew Lupp as the Sergeant of Police and his whole crew of “Bobbies” for their delightful hijinks.

This production of Pirates of Penzance had the hallmark of all great theater — the wish that it would never end, and the desire to go right back to the beginning and enjoy the whole evening once more. Many thanks to the whole Marriott cast and crew– and especially to Director Missimi.

 Highly Recommended

Beverly Friend

friend@oakton.edu

For more info checkout The Pirates of Penzance page at theatreinchicago.com

Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriot Drive, Lincolnshire, www.MariottTheatre.com, 847-634-0200,Tickets $41-$55,  runs Wednesdays at 1 and 8 pm., Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4:30 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 1 and 5pm.

Editor’s Note: I agree with Beverly’s review of Pirates and let me add that Matt Raftery’s choreography was creative and fun. I was also impressed with the vocals from Patricia Noonan and the boyish charm of Omar Lopez-Cepero. Kevin Earley’s The Pirate King  was a hoot. This was a fun, energetic and delightful G & S worthy of an audience.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams