Encore Stage & Studio The Pirates of PenzanceBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jul 20th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Encore Stage & Studio
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through July 29th
2:15 with intermission
Reviewed July 19th, 2012
Thursday evening Encore Stage & Studio opened the final show of their 2011-2012 season with a lively upbeat production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. This fast-moving, no time for deep breathing operetta was done remarkably well. Add to that a creative set and colorful costumes and you have a top-notch production.
Frederic, who was accidentally indentured to pirates when a lad and was eagerly awaiting his release upon turning 21, was played by Chris Sizemore. His over the top emotions were fun to watch. His voice was one of the stronger voices and could be heard fairly well. His determination to win the affections of the fair Mabel (Erin Driscoll) turned out to be an easy sell. Driscoll hit the high notes with ease and breath ability which never seemed to end. Both Helen Hayes Award winning performers seemed totally at ease together on stage and their connection to each other was strong.
The Major General (Christopher Thorn) was excellent, hitting the marks on the wonderfully silly “Modern Major General” song. There were a few remarkable modern additions to the song, which recived a great round of applause from the audience. Thorn’s emotional state was high throughout the evening as he tried to keep his daughters from marrying the evil pirates to sad despair over having lied to them by stating he was an orphan (not to be confused with often…oh never mind). The Pirate King was played by Mike Holland. With no body mics used by Encore State & Studio, Holland was the most difficult performer to hear, although at times most everyone had difficulty overcoming the loud music. Holland gave a solid performance and he and the Major General played off each other well. The Pirate King was sincere and although he came across as mean and swashbuckling, he had a soft spot for those less fortunate. Young at heart Ruth (Tara Koslov) was quite nimble despite her years. Her devotion to Frederic was real, as was her horror when she realized that not only was she no spring chicken, but a somewhat plain spring chicken at that. Koslov bounced back becoming a pirate herself in Act 2.
All of the general’s daughters as well as the pirates (or policemen in the second act) stayed in character and kept the energy and emotions up. The choreography was well done and Choreographer Sarah Conrad made excellent work of keeping a fast tempo which kept the cast constantly on the move. Even when not the focal point of the action, they managed to stay focused on the action. Some of the group numbers were hard to hard to hear and understand.
Set Designer and Director Evan Hoffman used sketches from various Gilbert & Sullivan operettas to create a colorful stage that allowed for plenty of room for dancing as well as entrances and exits. The space never felt cramped or claustrophobic.
The costumes by Kristen Jepperson equally matched the various cast members. The girls’ dresses were pretty, the pirates’ were menacing, The Pirate King in black and red was powerful and the Major General was dignified in military attire. Even the “policemen” were dashing in their uniforms and mustaches.
This upbeat operetta may best be experienced by elementary children and up as very young ones may find the two hours too much sitting time. (I felt sorry for the woman two rows in front of us as the young child directly in front of me spent most of the show tapping her chair with his shoes.) This fast-moving high energy classic operetta was a wonderful experience.
Photos by Larry McClemons
- Isabel: Carla Astudillo
- Daughter, Policeman: Sharon Caraballo
- pirate, Policeman: Josh Conrad
- Mabel: Erin Driscoll
- Pirate, Policeman: Sara Duke
- Pirate, Policeman: Ron Ferguson
- Pirate, Policeman:Sean Gilley
- Pirate King: Mike Holland
- Edith: Valerie Holt
- Daughter: Elizabeth Grace Lekel
- Pirate, Policeman: Richard Kashmanian
- Ruth: Tara Koslov
- Pirate, Policeman: Jack Ladd
- Daughter: Jordan Lark
- Kate: Meghan Mack
- Samuel, Policeman: J.P. McElyea
- Daughter, Pirate: Brandi Moore
- Daughter: Lowry Palmer
- Daughter, Policeman: Gina Pelusi
- Sergeant: Joshus Simon
- Frederic: Chris Sizemore
- Daughter: Melina Smith
- Major General: Christopher Thorn
- Pirate, Policeman: Hugh Vasquez
- Pirate, Policeman: William Westray IV
- Pirate, Policeman: Jaclyn Young
- Executive Director: Sara Strehle Duke
- Artistic Director: Susan Allison Keady
- Marketing & Education Services Coordinator, Program: Aileen Pangan
- Executive Producer: Celeste Groves
- Producer: Samantha Owen
- Director, Set Design: Evan Hoffman
- Music Director: Douglas Ullman, Jr.
- Choreographer, Assistant Technical Director: Sarah Conrad
- Props, Set Dressing: Marji Jepperson
- Costume Design & Build: Kristen Jepperson
- Set Builder: Jon Nardolilli
- Lighting Design: Sydney J. Rosen
- Lighting Consultant: Gary Hauptman
- Technical Director: Jimmy Keady
- Assistant Technical Director: Patrick Cuervo Dwyer
- Sstage Manager: Nora Huston
- Window Display: Sherry Gainer
- Photographer: Larry McClemons
- Community Outreach Intern: Candace Garnes
- Crew: Wlyse Ardaiz, Thomas Boudreaux, Padraig Clancy, Reiss Gidner, Carly Greenfield, Perry Kaufman, Thomas Kelty, Walter Lohmann, Dylan Schuler, Connor Stapp
Disclaimer: Encore Stage & Studio provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8325.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.