I’m crazy lucky because Sunday I got to see the opening night of the Hypocrite’s rendition of The Pirates of Penzance.
My parents were excellent at making sure my sisters and I had a comprehensive cultural education. We may have been wearing our boy cousin’s hand me downs but the three of us knew pas de chats from Impressionists, Ann Margarets from Jove/Zeuses and all the words to A Chorus Line before we hit double digits. A controversial piece of family history revolves around a trip to the theater to see Pirates of Penzance. My parents have no recollection of this but that evening there were 3 fire drills. THREE! On an already impossibly long show. On a school night! We all had to evacuate the theater, stand outside in the cold and wait to be given the go ahead to go back inside, sit down and listen to a hundred year old patter song. Misery. Although now that I think about it, maybe there were only 2 and the third disruption was intermission. In any case, Gilbert and Sullivan always left a foul taste in my mouth. Even though I love Mike Leigh it took 10 years for me to watch Topsy Turvy because goddamn. Few things make me have to pee from annoyance more than their music (the score to the Third Man has a similar effect on my bladder). This is all compounded by the fact that my parents pushed the film version with Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt on us and one year for Christmas I got a book of all the words from every Gilbert and Sullivan play. Oh the hot tears that would not fall.
My friend Zeke texted the other day asking if I wanted to see him in Pirates of Penzance. Absolutely. Especially now that I’m a grown woman and hardly ever find myself peeing out of frustration.
Long story longer, the show was amazing and I am dying to get back and see it again. The atmosphere and energy were unique and infectious and the staging that required us to walk around the space to see it from as many different ways as possible was just fun as hell. Set pieces like beach balls and plastic pools (for staging and percussion) were used so well the whole thing felt natural. Like its the most natural thing in the world to be in this party basement on a Sunday afternoon watching people tear it up G&S style. The show is crisp and tight and everyone is so good its sick. Did I mention they play their own instruments?? Including a cooler?
I had no idea I had so many songs from PoP lying dormant in my subconscious and that is a testament to my parent’s relentless advocacy of comic opera. By the end of the show when the actors snapped in place and sang a gorgeous reprise of Hail Poety acapella I cried a little. It was just so good.