Friday, December 17, 2010

Pirates of Penzance- The Hypocrites (play review)

Sometimes I think that Sean Graney is the super villain of plays.
It's like he gets hired to do a show and gives it the most ridiculous treatment he can think of, all in a maddening scheme to wreck the show and ruin the careers of all the actors involved. Then the show does well and his plans are foiled again! Then he disappears into Logan Square, never to be seen, until his next horrible experiment is foiled by his own petards.

If you think about it, it isn't the craziest theory out there.

Let's take Pirates of Penzance for example.
Everyone I have met in the past 10 years did this retard of a play in high school for the same reason that the Hypocrites are doing it now. It's free!
It's free and weird.

If you have managed to avoid this play your whole life, here's the rundown:

Frederic is a pirate apprentice and orphan. His father told his nurse to take him to PILOT school, but she misheard him and took him to PIRATE school. So then when he was a baby, he signed a contract that said he had to remain a pirate until his 21st birthday under penalty of nothing.
Turns out, he was born on leap year, so he's really only 5 years old after 21 years.
So he joins these pirates that are all SUPER gay and dress like Steve Prefontaine at a cocaine festival. They don't really do anything, because they pity orphans, so all the other real pirates that they try to take over (with no swords) say that they are orphans and then the gay, cocaine pirates split.
Frederic thinks that his old nurse named Ruth is ugly and doesn't want to marry her, even though no one is forcing him to, and so he says he needs to search for other women to see if she really is beautiful.
So the stupid pirates go to some remote island where there are only a bunch of sisters and their father who was the Major General of something that they never say.
He meets this other ugly broad named Mabel, and sort of falls in love with her? I don't know.
Then all the pirates marry these sisters and dance around on an island?
Who knows, man. And frankly, who cares.
Then they all turn into policemen and dance around!

Here's the thing though, the play is AWESOME. It's great fun to watch, and in typical Graney bizarreness, it's standing room only, around this catwalk that looks like a pier and lots of beach balls and coolers full of Fresca.

Graney has an ability to find a mix of some of the best performers in town (Rob McLean, Nikki Klix, Shawn Pfautsch) and mix them with relative unknowns (Emily Casey, Christine Stulik) and make everyone act totally insane.

All the actors play their own instruments which lends itself, and takes away from, the show. He could have literally had a karaoke track of the show playing behind them, and I would've left with the same impression.
Maybe not, the musicians were great. They were all incredible at their jobs and very attractive doing it.
My favorite number is "With Cat Like Tread".

Ezekiel Sulkes is very lovable as Frederic, the idiot boy which none of the right moves, and Rob McLean is Rob McLean-ish as the Pirate King. He has a Hunter S. Thompson sort of look to him, if Hunter S. Thompson lived on Fire Island in the 70's.
The actor named Christine Stulik plays both Ruth and Mabel and sings like Snow White in the cartoon movie. She will have a great and flourishing career, for sure.
Matt Kahler as the Major General nearly walks away with the show in his crazy looking pocket after his song. He has 2 big numbers, one is "the Modern Major General" song, but I like his second one better. I can't remember the name, nor will you, but he is in pajamas.

The real glory of this show belongs to the ensemble. The musicianship is unparalleled on non-equity stages and features the talents of Nikki Klix, Ryan Bourque, Emily Casey, Shawn Pfautsch, Becky Poole, and Doug Pawlik. They have to run and jump and dive and swim all over that weird place and still play instruments.
The harmonies are dope and the choreography is pretty quick and cute as well.
I particularly like Nikki Klix, because she wears this really cute bathing suit and has the best smile ever.

I'm not gonna lie to you, there will be moments during the show when you won't be able to understand the lyrics, but after 10 minutes of watching the show, you will realize that they aren't really saying anything important anyway, and then you can sit back and enjoy the show.


This is the best non-Christmas show of the Christmas time!


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

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