The Hypocrites present
PIRATES OF PENZANCE
At Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
New musical arrangements by Kevin O'Donnell
Directed by Sean Graney
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
No performances December 23rd - January 4th
Thru January 30th
Running Time: 80 minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Turning 21 is the rite of passage into a world of discovery. In contemporary times, it's the age of legal libations. Historically, it might have been the contractual completion of your pirate apprenticeship. The Hypocrites present PIRATES OF PENZANCE, a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. Frederic is turning 21. He is ready to embark on a voyage to manhood. Specificationally speaking, he wants to meet a beautiful woman. As he sets sail on his quest, he immediately falls in love with the Major General's daughter. When a leap year loophole recalls him to pirate servitude, Frederic is fighting against and for his love and honor. The Hypocrites re-imagine the classic Gilbert & Sullivan musical comedy. This PIRATES OF PENZANCE is a playful promenade down the plank for buried pleasure.
Under the direction of Sean Graney, the multi-talented cast of ten aaahhhhhrrrrrrr versatile. Each of the ten ensemble members acts, sings, dances AND plays an instrument while skipping, jumping, climbing AND bustling through the crowd. The movement around the pier is a swirling sea of vibrant farcical waves. The show is performed in promenade allowing the audience an interactive spectacle experience. Graney has paced it fast and enthusiastic. From entry into the theatre, guests are greeted with good-natured merriment by the performers. It looks like you stumbled onto somebody else's odd beach bash... already in progress. You definitely feel one Fresca short of comfort observing the cast-audience Caribbean mingling frivolity. The show official starts after helpful announcements describing the best way to experience the fun. Following the instructions, its eighty minutes of energetic choreographed movement to familiar and new light-hearted musical arrangements. All the actors aaahhhhhrrrrrrr absurdly amusing. A memorable stand-out moment is Matt Kahler (Major General/Samuel) singing the famous "Major General Song" with rapidly-delivered information on vegetable, animal, and mineral. Kahler is hysterical. Zeke Sulkes (Frederic) pumps up the lunatic heroics with zesty debates. Christine Stulik (Ruth/Mabel) goes double extreme! She heightens her burlesque act and soprano style for two-times the laughs.
I enjoyed this PIRATES OF PENZANCE! It seems the whimsical actualization of Gilbert & Sullivan's intent. Those silly guys lived for a good time. And because I want you to have a great time, here are some suggestions. First, to be more an observer than participant, lean along the walls or arrive early and nab the beach chairs. I did find a column to lean-up against just northwest of the pier. The locale was great but I was distracted that my big purse would trip an actor or audience member on the move. Sure, there is a coat check at the back of the room for bags. But leaving my purse with pirates in the vicinity especially during these economic times is a ridiculous notion. During the announcements, guests are encouraged to put on sunglasses from beach buckets. Even wearing my prescription pair, I struggled in the harsh stage lighting. Combine that with a hazy ambiance from smoke or dry ice or other pirate potion, my overly sensitive eyes constantly watered. Despite these speed bumps, I would do it all over again but without a purse and extra Kleenx.
A handkerchief-carrying gentleman, James says about the show, "Go & See!"