Mock’s Crest Theatre’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” delivered a silly yet heart-warming performance on Saturday evening at the Mago Hunt Theatre. The cast was outstanding as actors, but several principals needed more heft as singers. The newly renovated and expanded stage area seemed to challenge voices that didn’t project well, and perhaps some body microphones could have equalized the situation. Still, the frothy humor in this story about zany pirates, prim maidens, and inept bobbies always bubbled to the top and kept the audience in stitches.
Beth Madsen Bradford created a superb motherly nurse and her beautiful and robust mezzo easily filled the hall. Morgan Mallory convincingly portrayed the pirate apprentice Frederic, yet his light voice often didn’t match up well with the other principals. Corey Brunish as the dashing pirate chief had the charm and stage presence, but his singing. though pleasant, could barely be heard above the orchestra. In the role of the pirate lieutenant, Sammuel Hawkins displayed plenty of volume and really helped to boost some of the ensemble pieces. As the beautiful, young maiden Mabel, Tsipa Swan soubrette soprano could always be heard, but a little more weight in the voice and more volume would have helped.
John Vergin had oodles of fun in the role of Major General Stanley and his voice had enough power to be heard adequately. I really admired Vergin’s diction in the famous patter song, “I am the very model of at modern major general,” but, strangely enough, he kept getting out of sync with the orchestra. Russ Cowan made a fine sergeant of police, but needed more volume.
The pirates, maidens, and bobbies did a splendid job. The pirates, in particular, sang with zest and zeal, creating a lovable band that could never harm an orphan yet be quick to draw their swords at the slightest offence. The bonneted maidens were prim and proper to a tea and dutifully proud of their father, the ridiculous Major General. The bobbies put on their best keystone cops imitation, charming the audience with their ineptness.
Stage director Greg Tamblyn made good use of the enlarged stage, moving the story forward. Choreographer John Szerszen also created plenty of lively movement that worked very well. I liked the simple set of rocks that scenic designer Jeri Swatosh created for the sets. The traditional costumes by Darrin J. Pufall were spot on.
Conductor Roger O. Doyle paced the production well. The orchestra did a credible job although some intonation went awry here and there.
All in all, despite some vocal shortcomings, Mock Crest’s “Pirates of Penzance” is fine show and a great way to kick off the summer.
Mock's Crest's "Pirates of Penzance" runs Thursday through Sunday through June 29th.
For details click here.