A Rollicking Pirates of Penzance Captures the Spirit of Gilbert and Sullivan [Berkshire on Stage]

Frederic (John Farchione) with the Major General's many daughters in Pirates of Penzance at the Cohoes Music Hall, 2012. Photos by Theresa Thibodeau

Frederic (John Farchione) with the Major General's many daughters in Pirates of Penzance at the Cohoes Music Hall, 2012. Photos by Theresa Thibodeau

At Cohoes Music Hall last night, the company of 30 actors and musicians (21 on stage, 9 in the pit) filled the intimate hall with the authentic sound of Gilbert and Sullivan’s wonderful music as it is meant to be heard, totally natural and un-amplified. The singers voices held their own against the nine pieces accompanying them, the most ever for a Cohoes production. Many stood out too. Some in solos, some even in the chorus. This is a Pirates of Penzance to remember since you will measure future productions against its wonders. It runs from February 9-19, 2012.

Oddly enough, the original Pirates of Penzance opened in New York even before its premiere in London, and its great success was partially due to the head start it got in the United Stages. Curious, since the “operas” the English composer Sir Arthur Sullivan and librettist W.S. Gilbert wrote were about life from a strictly English viewpoint, not American, what with its foundation in the class system. Downton Abbey was not fiction then, real people living that sort of life continued to live around them into the 1920′s. It parodied the peculiar ways of Victorian England even as it foreshadowed the coming Americanization of musical comedies which blossomed in the century after their death. Without Gilbert and Sullivan’s “operas,” (they really are too light to be described that way today) followed by Victor Herbert’s operettas, there would be no Broadway today.

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