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‘The Pirates of Penzance’ irresistible

April 19, 2012
Sarah Reed , The Herald-Star

A band of benevolent pirates, lovely maidens, skittish policemen and other endearing personalities have recently accompanied audiences on a mirthful voyage to Victorian England, as the Jefferson County Christian School has completed its run of Gilbert and Sullivan's delightful operetta "The Pirates of Penzance."

The production, directed by the school's music teacher Susan Bullard, was a theatrical delight of majestic proportions. An uproariously comical journey abounds as the innocent and gentle Frederic, who is now of age and therefore allowed to lead his own life as he pleases, chooses to end his affiliation with the notorious crew of pirates known as the Pirates of Penzance, who he as been bound to since he was but a lad. While a free man, he is faced with troubling situations, among which is a humorous discovery that arises and threatens to separate him from his newly found love, Mabel.

As Frederic, Nicholas Marshall exuded an adorable doe-eyed charm that shone throughout the production. His romantic musical numbers with Fairynne Mathison's determined-yet-compassionate Mabel proved pleasing to the ear and endearing to the heart. Marshall's strong singing voice and Mathison's superb, graceful soprano complimented each other beautifully.

Bo Johnson as the Pirate King brought a highly energetic and largely comical presence to the production, especially when displaying his character's physical antics.

Christina Rouse brought a dignified and gingery charm to Ruth, Frederic's hard-of-hearing and adoring nanny, and Ben Miller as Major General Stanley, was hilariously batty and playful. Miller's interpretation of the rapidly-paced "I Am a Very Model of a Modern Major General" was executed exceptionally well.

Shining in the role of the Police Sergeant, Wes Seabright created a reserved man who allowed an intermittent twinkle of geniality to surface, making his character particularly captivating and an immense pleasure to watch. Supporting Seabright in moments of challenging choreography was a group of students donning the roles of his constabulary force. Together and separately, these performers undertook very physically demanding dance routines with exciting and astounding nimbleness.

The ensemble of students and pupils who assumed additional roles as pirates and Major General Stanley's numerous daughters brought lively and rough-and-tumble, cheerful and various qualities to their characters, respectively.

Adding to the production's magnificence was its spectacular set design. The most fascinating aspect of the set were curtains that illustrated different locales; these curtains were encompassed by a stationary backdrop depicting two theater box-like structures above and two entrances below, all adorned with red velvety drapes.

Another clever element of the set's layout was a portrait of Queen Victoria, secured atop the fixed scenery, with the pattern of the British flag in its background.

Jefferson County Christian School's production of "The Pirates of Penzance" was tremendously fun and immensely entertaining, and a wonderful affair to finish the school's well-respected musical theater history at their current building, as they will move to a new venue next academic year.

(Sarah Reed is theater critic for Weekender.)

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