Last night my wife and I went to Willow Valley Middle School‘s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. This is probably the third time I have seen this play on stage.
I know what you are probably thinking: “Paul, you usually write about music, not plays.” Since this is a musical, I thought it was appropriate. Also, if you want to read something different, please feel free to write your own article and send it to me.
Frankly, I do not remember my Junior High even doing drama productions. I was in community plays, but in Junior High I realized I had to pick my extra-curricular activities carefully or I would turn into a total dweeb. So I feel like these kids are already more cultured than I was at their age. Maybe. I do not actually know any of them.
If you have never seen this, you should. Especially if you like subtle humor. I feel like the whole thing is filled with tongue-in-cheek comments. My favorite number is from the second act. It is “With Cat Like Tread.” It starts about one minute in. The sound quality is not great, but it is a live performance in Central Park, which makes things like Kevin Kline’s catching the box of matches a little more impressive.
How Kevin Kline does that and sings at the same time, I may never know. I was a little disappointed that the director of the middle school’s production did this number more literally. In the score I have seen, it is marked forte (that means loud for all you non-musical types) and then fortissimo (super-loud). Honestly, who would not find pirates sneaking up on their victims while singing about how sneaky they are at the top of their lungs. It is the loudest song about being quiet I have ever heard. They even hush each other loudly. And considering they form a chorus line, I am impressed I have never seen someone whip out a kick line.
Anyway, the kids did great considering they are between 12 and 15-years old. William Price, the Pirate King, does not have as deep of a voice as you might expect from a pirate king, but that certainly is not his fault. Actually, all the leads were good. Jared Larsen played Frederic, Tori Papiernik played Mabel, Emily Robinson played Ruth, and Weston Miller played the Major General.
Miller was easily our favorite. When he was at the rear of the stage while others were singing, he was usually busting a move. It helped that he is probably the smallest of any of the actors. It just added to the irony which ran through the rest of the play. He might be an awkward teenager, but it seems like he has come to terms with that, accepts his awkwardness, and knows everyone is going through it, so he better make the most of it.