'Pirates of Penzance' is given a shipshape youth production Gilbert and Sullivan operetta blessed with talented leads

July 07, 1996|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The best thing about the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's youth production of Gilbert and Sullivan's wonderful operetta "The Pirates of Penzance" is that the kids are having a marvelous time entering into the snappy atmosphere that only a G&S show can create.

As a result, facial takes are hammed up, pink parasols spin with abandon, mustachioed policemen shake their knees in abject fear, and most of W. S. Gilbert's spicy patter comes across like gangbusters.

It's a fun show, as a large, enthusiastic audience found out Wednesday evening at the charming outdoor theater diagonally across from City Dock.

Director Bob Rude has been blessed with a pair of marvelous leads.

Bobby Hubbard, an 18-year-old senior from Severna Park High School, is very good as Frederick, the handsome young pirate whose attempt to go straight is hindered by his misfortune to have been born in a leap year.

Hubbard is eminently poised onstage, can set up a joke well and knows what to do with his attractive tenor voice.

Sarah Thomas, also of Severna Park High, is a delight as Frederick's beloved Mabel. Thomas projects her spirited character well, and, when it's time for her to chirp those florid, inimitable G & S passages, watch out. That stratospheric high-D in her opening aria sounded pretty professional to me.

Ben Capistrant is hilarious as the sergeant of the goofiest set of cops this side of "Car 54! Where Are You?" and Susan Hoffman shows a lot of moxie as Ruth, the pirates' Maid of all Work.

You'll also enjoy Ben Crispin as the Pirate King, although he's much more an actor than a singer.

The ensemble is exceptional theatrically and musically, with the girls especially strong.

A few syllables are lost to the excessive speed of the prerecorded pit orchestra, but, on the whole, the accompaniment is full of stylish playing.

The only major quibble is that Stefan Nagey needs to enter into the fun of it all as the incomparably silly Major-General Stanley. This is a patter part, a license to steal. Loosen up, enjoy yourself, grab some laughs. You'll never play a funnier role. Make the most of it.

"The Pirates of Penzance" plays at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 8: 30 p.m. through July 31. Call 268-9212 for ticket information.

Pub Date: 7/07/96

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