Good production, but filled with unnecessary additions.
Sean | LOOK | 07/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great production of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and in some respects stronger than THE MIKADO of two years before (scenically and in costuming, and a lot of the dancing and staging). However, I must say that I much prefer the Stratford MIKADO to this production.First off, there were additions made to the show that served no purpose. However, while completely unnecessary, they were well executed in their own rite. The two main examples are the dialogue that was added to the daughters' scene that gets them to strip off a lot more than just their shoes and stockings, and the entire 15-minute ballet added to the end of the show. First off, concerning the daughters stripping down to their undergarments, this is totally out-of-sync with Victorian sensibilities! Young ladies from that era would never have done that, and G&S would never have allowed that in one of their shows. That is why the original production is so funny--the girls only plan to take of their shoes and stockings, and Frederic blushes because of this, because it is so shocking to him. And the ballet at the end, added merely so that some dancers (one added character named "Blue Stocking" and the role of Frederic) could have something to do. Musical director Bertold Carriere rearranged a lot of Sullivan's music to add this ten to fifteen minute thing that serves no purpose. And the police finding daughters in liaisons with the pirates makes no sense, because when the finale commences, the daughters do not wish to be married to the pirates. However, these trifles were so well staged and performed, that even as I realized that they were pointless, they amused me.Jeff Hyslop as Frederic has a nasally, slightly comic, mostly irritating sound, and is not a singer by any means, which Frederic should be. Hyslop is quite obviously a dancer (as you can see from all of that unnecessary *ADDED* dancing), because he's really not an actor, nor a singer by any means. So one wonders why he was cast in the role of Frederic to begin with. Did director Brian MacDonald just envision the role of Frederic to be a huge dancing one from the get-go, or were he and Hyslop merely dating?Caralyn Tomlin is a beautiful, vocally delightful Mabel, and she is quite charming thoughout. However, during the final reprise of "Poor, wand'ring one," the sound produced in her obligato section is rather weak. Douglas Chamberlain is a funny and charming Major-General Stanley. Karen Woods makes a lot out of what would be a throw-away role in Edith, being just a cute and charming as she was with Pitti-Sing in Stratford's MIKADO. The entire policeman's chorus is HILARIOUS!! The staging for the Policeman's Entrance number was sheer brilliance, "When the Foeman Bares His Steel" had me laughing histerically at the most unexpected moments, and it was still amusing to me minutes after the song was over. (Thank God, because that was Hyslop trying to hit high tenor notes in "Now for the Pirates' Liar!") Ruth was very good. Samuel has a stupid, Pipi Longstocking wig that one finds very distracting and a constant source of frustration. Brent Carver is funny as the Pirate King, if mugging a bit too much at times. But he, Frederic, and Samuel have some great dancing moments at different points in the show (you'd expect it from Hyslop, as we've already figured that dancing is his strong-point, but the gentleman playing Samuel is surprising spry on his feet).The show was impeccably designed and staged, and it comes across very well. So, as I do reccomend this DVD to anyone wanting to see a good production of PIRATES, I would also warn them that there are a lot of well-planned-out additions to the show that add nothing in retrospective."
Gilbert and Sullivan are rolling in their graves
Phil Touchette | Quincy, Illinois United States | 05/23/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
""The Pirates of Penzance" was the first real operetta that I had the opportunity to perform, and have pure joy doing so. For that, I consider it very special. However, had I seen this taped production before auditioning, I might have been forever soured from experiencing "Pirates" as a show. I found this treatment of the operetta to be grossly sub-par.The biggest flaws in this production were miscasting and the several augmentations to the original libretto. Jeff Hyslop as Frederic, the slave of duty, has an annoying, whiny vocal quality in a role that requires a seriously operatic Tenor sound. Caralyn Tomlin took on the role of Mabel with the right approach to the role's fierce soprano lines, but that was about all she did--Mabel isn't given much to "say" anyway. Brent Carver's pirate king had plenty of gusto in his performance, but the real flaw was in the director's decision to augment his lines. By far, the biggest disappointment in the cast had to be Douglas Chamberlain, whose Major-General was far too campy for my tastes. He had adequate diction, but really did not overwhelm in his singing. Despite these horrible miscastings, the actors portraying Ruth and the Sergeant of Police were delightful in their respective roles.The second flaw of this production was augmentations. Whoever directed this production took FAR too many liberties with the libretto. I could live with a couple from the Pirate King and Ruth, but when the director decided to add verses to the famous patter song "I am the very model of a modern Major-General," I was very much bored with it. Not only were lines added, the director decided to turn what could be a simple swordfight in the end of Act Two, into a tedious 15-minute dance-a-thon by the company.So, if you want a better adaptation of this operetta, DO NOT look here. Personally, I would suggest the 1983 film with Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt, or any other production that retains the silly spirit of G & S without adding new material."
Like sitting in the audience.
Seth A. Hager | Port Townsend, Wa. USA | 01/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this very much. I'll admit the only other versions of Pirates I've seen (so far) are the big movie version and some community theater production in my distant youth, and this beats the snot out of both of them. This production is so alive and exhilarating, I'll be surprised if I ever see another version I like as much. Much of the charm of this production comes from it being filmed on what looks to be a real theater stage, and we have the best seats! Sure, the actors run around on stage and occasionally have to breath heavily, but it feels like we're watching a live production. Most of the charm comes from Brent Carver and Jeff Hyslop who not only can sing and dance, but can sing and dance at the same time. This feat is showcased by the songs being recorded live, bringing a spontaneity absent in the very same Stratford Festival's stately and sedate video version of The Mikado in which all the songs have been dubbed. This Pirates has a great mixture of silliness and liveliness that makes it a pleasure to watch. Good job guys!"
Pirates of Penzance
Seth A. Hager | 01/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps it is because this was the first opera I ever had the opportunity to see and I was only nine years old at that time, but I have always loved this performance. The humor and charisma drew me in and now I cannot think of anyone other than Brent Carver as the Pirate King. I found this to be the perfect piece to introduce me to the world of opera and it will forever hold a place in my heart. I believe that most people overthink this performance and should just look at it as a fun and interesting story even if there have been a few changes. After all, the performers interpretations are part of the beauty of watching different performances."