Volume 6 Week 27

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St. Peter Players' 'Pirates of Penzance' a pile of fun
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Peter High School Players are presenting 'The Pirates of Penzance' tonight and tomorrow night at St. Peter High School on Charlemagne Blvd. Fred Sherwin/Photo

When it comes to pirates there are the swashbuckling, blood thirsty variety like John Morgan, Captain Kidd and Blackbeard and then there are the more genteel variety you usually ready about in children's books like Cpt. Hook. The Pirates of Penzance would definitely fall into the latter category.

They don't fight orphans (being orphans themselves) and they don't like to fight anyone weaker than they are which is problematic in that they tend to lose when they fight anyone stronger than they are.

In the St. Peter High School Players production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance", the play opens with the pirates preparing to celebrate the 21st birthday of their young apprentice Frederic, played by Mike Molinski. But as the hour draws near he announces his intention to leave their band to join normal society and once having done so, seek to exterminate them.

Disappointed but understanding, the genial pirates wish him good fortune and allow him to leave with his childhood nurse Ruth who brought him to them in the first place when she confused his dying parents wishes for him to apprentice as a ship's "pilot" with wanting him to apprentice as a "pirate".

On their journey to civilization Frederic expresses his desire to marry a "beautiful" woman. The only problem is that the only woman he's ever seen during his eight years as an apprentice pirate was Ruth, who although twice his age, is interested in the "job".

Ruth, who is played wonderfully by Christine D'Silva, tries to convince Frederic of her own beauty when they come across a gaggle of young sisters frolicking on the beach.

Frederic is immediately enraptured and announces that he is a pirate and would any of them care to be his wife. The scene that follows is one of the highlights of the play as the girls swoon over the handsome young pirate but ultimately spurn his advances. Only Mabel, the eldest of the daughters accepts his proposal.

But unbeknownst to Frederic or the sisters, the pirates also have designs on making the sisters their wives. When they come on the scene, they are intercepted by the girls' bumbling father, Major General Stanley, who lies about being an orphan in order to get the pirates to leave his daughters alone.

Frederic, played by Mike Molinski, sticks his finger in the face of the Pirate King, played by Matthew Perera, during a scene in 'The Pirates of Penzance'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

In the second half of the play, the pirates trick Frederic into rejoining their band by reminding him that he was born on a leap year and has only had five birthdays instead of the prerequisite 21. Therefore is still indentured to them.

Once more a pirate, Frederic feels honour bound to tell his comrades that the Major General lied about being an orphan which results in the pirates vowing to kill him. In the meantime the Major General has procured the services of the local Keystone cops to find the pirates and arrest them.

The play ends with all three groups pursuing each other around the stage, until the Sergeant of the police asks the pirates to yield in the name of the Queen which they all do immediately

As it turns out they are all former nobleman who share an allegiance to the Queen. When the Major General finds this out, he allows them to marry his daughters and assume their legislative duties.

Apart from the ridiculously short and entirely farcical ending, the play is sheer delight.

This is Mike Molinski's third and final go round with the St. Peter Players, and his voice and confidence has gotten better with each production.

Last year he played one of the princes in "Into the Woods" with Jordan Routliff who is perfectly cast in "Pirates" as the Major General. Routliff's big moment comes during the tongue twisting "I Am The Very Model Of A Model Major General", which he somehow managed to pull off without his tongue turning into knots.

Matthew Pearce was a pleasant surprise as the Pirate King as was D'Silva in the role of Ruth. Both garnered plenty of guffaws from the audience, especially D'Silva who's acting ability shone through like a beacon whenever she stepped on the stage on the stage.

As much as the Pirates of Penzance is about the supporting players, however, the production lives and dies with the role of Mabel.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Katrina Waters pulled off the vocally demanding role with bravado. Her operatic voice filled the cafeteria/theatre and nearly shattered the windows.

Another highlight was the performance of Kate Heney, Keena Eloise and Julianna Siok as Edith, Isabel and Kate in the scene in which Frederic cavorts with the daughters.

Speaking of the daughters, their choruses provided some of the most memorable musical moments of the entire play and their choreography was sensational. Dayna Ryan's facial expressions and body language stood out in particular.

The rest of the chorus by Katie Pearce, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Sarah McDonald, Charis Putinski, Emilie Gauthier, Czeska Dumali and Kelly Wooff while Gabriella Maatouk, Alicia Bacile, Alexandra Dupuis Tierney Fitzgerald, Katie Pearce, Nicole Sanger and Anna Gregory did double duty as daughters in the first half of the play and policemen in the second half along with Bryan Ladds, Kyle Kerr and Jason Dinardo.

The 27 member cast does not include the all-volunteer orchestra led by Lisa MacLean, or the production and stage crews led by producer Carla Boyle and student director Hannah Schatz as well as the driving force behind the St. Peter Players – Bernie Leger.

All in all, "The Pirates of Penzance" is another strong production in a long line of memorable performances and is well worth the $10 price of admission.

The play continues tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. A special matinée performance will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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