Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Pirates of Penzance at Marriott Lincolnshire

In a winningly wonderful revival of their 2000 production of Gilbert & Sullivan's “The Pirates of Penzance” Marriott Lincolnshire Theater once again proves that not only are they at the top of their game when it comes to top of the line musical comedy's but also in allowing Chicago actors the chance to give memorable performances that will stay with you for years to come.

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE follows the story of young Frederic who, as a child, is mistakenly apprenticed to a band of tenderhearted, ophaned pirates.  Upon completion of his apprenticeship to the pirates on his 21st birthday, Frederic is released from his servitude.  Soon after, he meets the fair maiden Mabel, daughter of Major-General Stanley.  The two fall instantly in love; but as always, obstacles threaten to cause trouble for everyone.  In the Marriott's production that takes a show that was originally done in 1879 and makes it work on so many levels in a testament to all in involved inthis production.        

Let's start off with the joys to be had by the creative team with the production that's running though June 13th and directed with great comedic aplomb by Multi-Jeff Award winning director Dominic Missimi who you never for one second feel like is going to lose the reins of this production. This is a show with a huge cast, lots of music, lots of scene work, and could easily fall apart with a less then skilled director and Mr. Missimi leaves no doubt that he could handle this in his sleep and proves it though out the entire production. He is assisted by the gorgeous costumes of his wife Nancy Missimi and the set design by Thomas M. Ryan who keep everything bright and festival and a pleasure to look at. The musical direction by Ryan T. Nelson, orchestrations by David Siegel with musical supervisor Patti Garwood makes the difficult Gilbert and Sullivan music seem like an everyday stroll in the park. Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Sullivan's work when supported by six of these masters when teamed up make this production seem so effortless that you would think that anyone could stage “The Pirates of Penzance” and get away with it. If you throw in the bouncy syncopated movements created by Matt Raftery then you have the icing of musical comedy heaven.

The other joys in this terrific production is the sensational cast that is able to get the not to be taken seriously but smartly does not fall into the over the top type of acting that comes so easily with this type of show. Throw in some heavenly singing and you have a cast almost as strong as the production team that is assembled for this production.
All of that said though In the starry role of The Pirate King Kevin Early could be a little bit more over the top as this along with a few other roles cries out for some ham and Omar Lopez-Cepero as Frederick could have more of a presence the lovely Patricia Noonan is smart enough to play up the ingenue role without making Mabel an idiot and inflects her role with some stunning vocal trills. As the Sergeant Andrew Lupp expertly handles all the tricky choreography while not losing any of the comedic glee his character has while even dealing with a faulty mic in his solo in the second act. In smaller roles Jeff Max, Susan Moniz, and Kelly Ann-Clark delight with small but quite noticeable touches their roles.

In one of the show's two showiest roles Chicago stage legend Alene Robertson as poor suffering nurse maid Ruth lands everyone one of her lines in her one of a kind dead pan delivery even though one wishes she was a little bit more believable in the role and up to the vocal task. All of this leads up to the performance that is without a doubt going to be picking up several awards this season. Even though he comes in a little bit later in the first act Ross Lehman as the Modern Major General walks off with the show to the point that you might want to rename it “The Model of a Modern Major General” even to the point that I was quite shocked he didn't receive the final bow at the end of the show. This is a performance that I rank up there with some of my greatest Chicagoland stage performances. To say that Mr. Lehman does everything perfect would even still be an understatement as he has the audience and quite clearly the actors eating out of the palm of his hand and can make you howl from just a skip or a turn.

It's quite impressive for a show that's been around so long could still come across as fresh and not as creaky as one might expect to not only make the audience laugh with so much glee and leave with a smile on theirs faces that credit is not only due to the creators of the show but to the creators of this particular production and to top it off Mr. Lehman along with his extremely witty improvisational riff during his solo makes this a must see for anyone.  

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE is presented at The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL opened August 13th and is running though June 10th.  The performance schedule is Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Ticket Prices range from $41 to $49, plus tax and handling fees.  Seniors and students recieve $5.00 off a full price theatre ticket on Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m.., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings a limited number of Dinner and Theatre tickets are available for $55.00 per person plus handling fees.  Dinner is at Kings Wharf Restaurant or the Fairfield Inn (based on dining availability).  Free parking is available at all performances.  To reserve tickets with a major credit card. call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or www.Ticketmaster.com.  Visit www.MarriottTheatre.com for more information.       

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