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St. Andrew’s not-so-bad ‘Pirates’

Jacob Brisson, a student at Hayfield Secondary School , reviews St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s “The Pirates of Penzance” as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

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Greg Michel, Ben Mitchell and Joey Schepis from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. (Photo by Sue Harris Phillips)

Pirates are often portrayed as heartless cutthroat crooks, but the pirates of Penzance are cut from a different fabric. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s performance of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s comedic musical, “The Pirates of Penzance” showed the audience that despite being a motley crew, pirates can be, well, lovable.

The musical is ripe with humor despite its potentially serious plot. The year is 1877 and the young Frederic (Jonah Orr) has just finished his apprenticeship with a band of pirates. Though he’s been alive for 21 years, he was born in a leap year, which clearly makes him a five year old. As Frederic prepares to leave the pirates, he meets the daughters of pirate hunter Major General Stanley (Joey Schepis) and falls in love with one—Mabel (Kati Richer). As the pirates and the major general duke it out, Frederic must choose sides.

St. Andrew’s performance had something for everyone. Schepis’s performance of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” included inside jokes, which seemed to hit home with members of the audience.

Orr’s Frederic had a pleasant voice and portrayed his character as young and earnest, despite being raised by pirates. His affection for Mabel was undeniable. Richer, as Mabel, had a lilting singing voice and delivered challenging lyrics.

Ben Mitchell (Richard, the Pirate King) had a brilliant stage presence and a voice that carried well. He portrayed a king who could be both fierce and gentle. Astrea Somarriba (Ruth) had a stunning voice also, and she made the convincing transition from a caring and desperate nursemaid to a tough pirate woman. Schepis also added comedy by way of his physicality, which helped bring a palpable energy to the cast. The pirate and constable ensembles were well tailored, and they both had unique characters that helped with the show’s authenticity.

St. Andrew’s stage band not only provided a solid score, but also comic relief while filling in as extras with their pirate headwear. The lighting was most effective during the night to sunrise transition following the second act.

There are bad pirates and bad pirate performances. St. Andrew’s production navigated around both.

By Jacob Brisson, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  March 10, 2010; 7:56 PM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2010  
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