Classical MPR: Laughter and romance with ‘The Pirates of Penzance’

Alison Young, Classical MPR & Classical MPR 2/8/15

What is it about Gilbert and Sullivan? The music is catchy and memorable; maybe not deep, but certainly well crafted. The words are so silly in their rhyming couplets that I bet you’re like me and wish you had super-titles to follow along — even though the libretto is in English. I just don’t want to miss a precious word!

Almost by chance, composer and producer Frederic Clay brought together a composer of “important works” (Sullivan) and a lawyer (Gilbert) writing comedy on the side to create one of the greatest — and longest lasting — artistic forces in history.

The Pirates of Penzance is a musical farce that tells the story of a band of swashbuckling — but tender-hearted — pirates setting hearts aflutter with their high-seas hijinks.

I was in the audience last week for Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, guffawing at the slapstick and applauding loudly for the expert singing. So it was my great pleasure to bring in three of the stars to sing a bit for you and to share something about their lives in show biz: Brandon O’Neill (Pirate King), Anne Eisendrath (Mabel), Gary Briggle (Major-General Stanley) along with pianist Andrew Bergoin. The production runs through Sunday, Aug. 16, at the Ordway.

Listen to the full interview on Classical MPR here.

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