The Uncommon Theatre Company's winter production is the 1980 version of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance". The show first opened in New York on December 31, 1879 but this version is a fresh take on their most popular comic opera. The new version opened on January 8, 1981 and ran for 817 performances. It tells the story of a young pirate apprentice named Frederic who has come to the end of his indentured period. As it turns out, he was indentured by mistake. His half-deaf nurse, Ruth, had been instructed to apprentice the boy to being a pilot not a pirate. Upon turning 21, Frederic now rejoices that he has fulfilled his duties with the band of tender-hearted orphaned pirates and is now free to return to respectable society. Alas, he was born and February 29 remaining apprenticed to the pirates. Frederic who has never seen any women except his old nurse, stumbles on a bevy of beautiful maidens. He casts his eyes on the loveliest one of all Mabel and falls in love with her immediately. This updated show is an hilarious farce with the sentimental pirates, bumbling, tap dancing policemen, dim witted young lovers, dewy-eyed daughters and their eccentric Major-General father who are all morally bound to the often, ridiculous dictates of honor and duty. This children's theater company does a bang up job with this show and contains a cast ranging from 3rd to 12th grade. Director David Letendre, music director David Coccia and choreographer Karen Anderson bring this 19th century show into the 21st century with a group of talented kids who handle the tongue twisting songs and dialogue with ease, earning them a tremendous ovation at the close of the show.
David Letendre directs and blocks this huge show with ease and gives these kids fencing lessons, too. David Coccia teaches them the intricate lyrics and conducts the 10 piece orchestra while Karen teaches them how to dance including some spectacular tapping by the cops. Val Dotolo is the hard working stage manager who keeps things moving smoothly all night long.The two leads in this show are Matthew Dowd as Frederic and Amy Kaplan as Mabel. Matt is a 7th grader with an incredible tenor voice, singing in over 17 numbers.(He gets his talent from his dad, Michael who recently played the Captain in "The Sound of Music">) He plays the young hero role superbly and shows a lot of talent at a young age. Amy is an 11th grader with a fantastic soprano voice. Her "Poor Wandering One" soars off the charts and she handles the ingenue role wonderfully. High school senior, Andrew Johnson plays the Pirate King. He towers over the younger children, presenting a commanding presence in all his scenes. His right hand man, Samuel is played wonderfully by 7th grader, Jake Kelley. His drunken singing and line delivery at the beginning of the show is a hoot. Another strong performer is Katie Travers as Ruth, 47 year old nurse. She is a junior in high school with a great belting voice, stage presence and comic delivery. Two scene stealers in this show are 7th grader, Napoleon Soares as the befuddled, Major General who sells the tongue twisting patter song with ease and 10th grader Matthew Timmons who is hilarious as the cockney tapdancing cop.
The chorus members do a great job in the show, selling their numbers to the crowd and giving great facial reactions, too. Mabel's oldest sisters include the beautiful strawberry blond, Zoe Schwartz who plays Kate(she has a gorgeous soprano voice, too) red headed, Emily Lovejoy also shows off her strong voice in this show. Other sisters are played by Jean Swaebe, Kelsey Sullivan, Brianne Costa, Mariss Gabrilowitz, Shannon Leavey, Alissa Melton, Jackie Staffier and Kelly Whelan. The pirates are played by Brett Calo, Nick Chris, Bryce Egan, Demetri Fox, Ryan Hansberry, Kenneth Johnson, Adam Kantor, Lauren Melton, Liam Murphy, Alexander Peltz and Keith Pinault. The tapdancing cops are played by Katie Armstrong, Lee Cohen, Katherine Coleman, Margaret Dowd, Liza Evans, Caitlin Finnerty, Allyson Grover, Gabrielle Kane, Allison Passanisi, Jackie Reilly, Carrie Resnick, Gabrielle Ross and Stefanie Weiner. So for a fun filled show with some talented kids, be sure to catch "Pirates of Penzance" before time runs out.