Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gilbert Sullivan - The Pirates of Penzance / Kline Ronstadt Smith Routledge Delacorte Theater |
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Kevin Kline, George Rose, Linda Ronstadt, Rex Smith, Patricia Routledge
Directors: Joshua White, Wilford Leach
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Gilbert and Sullivan's raucous operatic tale is captured in all its fun and glory in this production, recorded live at Central Park's Delacorte Theater. Kevin Kline sparkles as the swashbuckling and libidinous Pirate King ... more »
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Get a Grip.
Craig Gustafson | Glendale Heights, IL USA | 06/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The complaints I've been reading here are:1. Why didn't they tell me that this isn't the Angela Lansbury version? (If you had looked for Lansbury's name in the description, you would have noticed its absence.)2. The video quality is sub-par! (Knowing in advance that this was recorded outdoors over twenty years ago, I was prepared for less-than-broadcast quality.)3. It's LIVE... EEEEWWWwwwww! (Get a grip.)I like the 1983 movie version a lot. But this version kicks the movie version's buttocks so thoroughly that I probably won't order it when it becomes available.Patricia Routledge's performance is ten times better than Angela Lansbury's. In the movie Lansbury, after several years of playing Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd", apparently was sick of Cockney dialects, and played Ruth as Irish. It didn't work and she wasn't that funny. Routledge is funny and has a gorgeous voice.What is glorious about seeing the live performance is the energy that the cast gets from the audience reactions. George Rose, after the Major General song, isn't applauded... he's CHEERED. There is no way that this type of response can fail to pump up the cast.This really is the type of material seen best with audience reaction, the same reason that films like "Noises Off" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" don't really work. If you love theatricality, this is for you."
Pirates in the Park--finally!
Craig Gustafson | 11/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ordinarily, I wouldn't be writing this, because I was a part of this production, the Broadway show and the movie version--but I'm THRILLED that this live performance, made as an archival tape, and not intended for commercial release, is finally available. Maybe you'll see why it was such a mega-hit (hundreds were turned away every night for the entire summer it played under the stars at the Delacorte in Central Park) that it HAD to go to Broadway! (It's also a better record of the show than the movie version)I won't comment on the performances other than to note that Patricia Routledge was a wonderful Ruth, with the best legit singing voice of anyone who played her (Estelle Parsons and Kaye Ballard on Broadway, Angela Lansbury in the film). She got big laughs every night, and was the only Ruth to end up with Kevin Kline's Pirate King (much funnier that way). If you've only seen her singing off-key as Hyacinth in "Keeping Up Appearances," you'll be surprised--the "My love without reflecting/Don't beloved master" section of Ruth & Frederic's "O False One" was changed from a duet to a solo because of her beautiful performance.Actually, TWO songs were interpolated. "My Eyes Are Fully Open" (aka "It Really Doesn't Matter") was a trio from "Ruddigore." "Sorry Her Lot" was added to take advantage of Linda Ronstadt's ability with a ballad. She was an ensemble player from the first sing-thru and never asked for any special treatment. It was very brave of her to take the risk of singing an operatic part (reaching an E-flat above high C) 8 times a week--who knew she could do it? By the way, Linda got a well-deserved Tony nomination for her efforts!So if you're interested in live theater, give this "Pirates" a chance."
Rough audiovisual, but theatrically brilliant
K. Sullivan | Virginia - United States | 04/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those who revel in polished audio and visual and the latest and greatest in those technologies, this DVD is probably just not for you. On the other hand, if you love theater - raw, live, intimate - then this is as good as it gets. Personally, I love a live show and this performance definitely hits the spot.
In fairness, the DVD quality is not as rough as some would seem to suggest. I was scared I wouldn't be able to make out any words or faces based on some of the reviews. At the end of the day, it is an 80's quality video preserved on DVD. Of course, the beauty of the DVD is that you can skip to your favorite parts (which I find very handy) and it will not wear through repeated playback like a video.
As to the performance itself, spectacular. I personally feel some of it drags a bit - but that is just owing to my own particular taste. I would rather laugh at the back story of Frederic's apprenticeship to pirates due to Ruth's hearing impairment, or revel with the joy it is to be a Pirate King, or most particularly dance about and laugh as the inept police do their thing than hear some of Ronstadt's/Mabel's "arias" (I was a little surprised that her voice and acting were not quite on par with my expectation). Some sections drag a bit for me (others will find them the highlight, I am sure), but the highs are absolutely enjoyable!
And the individual performances must be applauded. Kline hams it up beautifully as the Pirate King. Smith conveys wonderfully his innocence and a sense of duty. Routledge does wonderfully as his maid, Ruth. And as others have highlighted, the Major General really brings out the best of his role and the audience. All that being said, I'm a sucker for the policemen. Their dancing about and general goofiness is wonderful. Their "leader" does a phenomenal job and his performance (vocally and physically) is my favorite part of the show.
If you are looking for an audiovisual masterpiece, please pass. You will be horrified. If, however, you love theater and want to have a jolly good time watching others perform with all their hearts, you can't go wrong with this production. These actors are relishing in their roles and really sold the performance. Great job!"
Forget the movie, this is the version to get!
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 03/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From the first few bars of the Overture, a high-octane energy permeates through this legendary staging of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, the witty Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. This is the acclaimed Joseph Papp/New York Shakespeare Festival production, videotaped live at the open-air Delacorte Theatre, just before the show transferred to Broadway's Uris Theatre for a run of over 700 performances.
Young Frederic is about to reach his 21st birthday and as such is allowed to leave his pirate apprenticeship if he so wishes. He falls in love with Mabel, one of the many daughters of the eccentric Major-General, but his happiness is short-lived. An eternal "slave to duty", Frederic finds himself back in the Pirate King's clutches due to a small technicality...
The original cast of this production is simply sublime, most of them went on to reprise their roles in a 1983 film version. Kevin Kline's Pirate King is equal parts swashbuckling rogue and clueless klutz; Rex Smith is perfect as the innocent young Frederic; Patricia Routledge brings full comedic and musical life to Ruth, the "piratical maid of all work"; and, in her theatre debut, Linda Ronstadt silenced her harshest critics by revealing a lilting yet merciless coloratura soprano voice as the beautiful Mabel. Tony Azito's Police Sergeant is wonderful, as is George Rose playing the tongue-twisting Major General with catlike precision. Delightful Alice Playten and Alix Korey lead the army of daughters. Graciela Daniele's choreography captures a sense of whimsy and frolic, with some great acrobatic moves for the pirates and a cute Keystone Kops-Tinkertoy routine for the policemen. This version of the show also includes interpolated pieces from "Ruddigore" and "H.M.S. Pinafore".
Linda Ronstadt's performance is especially good for a singer who was never trained in the classical roles. The role of Mabel is one of the most demanding female roles in the entire G&S canon, and she pulls off the feat with incredible skill and flair. Rex Smith perfectly partners her as Frederic and their duets are magical.
This was filmed on videotape in the early 80s, and the source is beginning to show it's age on this DVD release. The image is fuzzy and overexposed at times, bleaching out colours and details, but the stage lighting does not help matters either, causing a `blooming' and ghosting effect on the performer's costumes. The sound is easily heard but there are several instances of analogue wobble and tape-hiss. These shortcomings aside, having this historic performance captured at all is a blessing.
Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are full of froth and fun, but this PIRATES is so delightful that it's positively featherweight. An ideal way to spend a rainy weekend."