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Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions 
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Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
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Post Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
Mind if I post some questions here? Need to learn all of my music by the beginning of July, and I have a CD (D'Oyly 1968), have the full libretto, and am trying to absorb it all. I have run across something puzzling, though. Why, in Act II, is Mabel all on fire for Frederick to lead the police to "death and Glory" (presumably he would have the same fate?), but begging him to stay and not honor his sense of duty when he is going back to the pirates? She'd rather have him die an honorable death than honor a contract with dishonorable people? Confused.

There is a note in my libretto that Gilbert and Sullivan wanted the show to be done seriously; that is, the characters are acted in an earnest way, they do not know how ridiculou they are. But some modern productions I've seen online are going wayy overboard with the silliness factor (1994 Australia?? The Singlettes?). Do you think the show should be done as intended with the silliness coming from the fact that the characters do not know how ridiculous they are, or just throw that out the window and go all out silly?

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Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:35 am
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Post Re: Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
The best example of the show working is the Joe Papp/Public Theatre production starring Kevin Kline and George Rose from the early 1980s. its done tounge in cheek in a style honoring Monty python or the Goon SHow but in a more subdued manner than those comedians.

they did a film versiion with the cast 9replacing patricia routledge with angela lansbury) and the stage version was comerically released as well. check them out.

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Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:49 am
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Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
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Post Re: Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
I've watched the 1983 film twice on Netflix (Kevin Kline kills me!!) and have seen most of the clips from the Public Theater production on YouTube as well.
Any insight on my Mabel question? :)

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Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:31 pm
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Post Re: Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
Well, if he has to go off with the pirates, then he's pretty much guaranteed to not come back.

Besides, looking for consistency in a wacky operetta?


Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:45 pm
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Post Re: Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
Ahh, love this show. I thinks it works back if everyone's played straight except for The Pirate King, who works totally over the top and Ruth, who can be moderately loopy. The Sargent-Major also works well as a little slow, if earnest. Frederick and Mabel I think, especially, have to be played straight. It really adds to the craziness of the score.

And, while I didn't love everything about the Papp production, Kevin Kline's Pirate King was really brilliant.

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Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:42 am
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Post Re: Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
I found Papp's production brilliant from start to finish.. George Rose was a genius as well.

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Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:25 am
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Post Re: Pirates of Penzance discussion and questions
haha,good post,so funny.

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Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:28 pm
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