Thursday, September 04, 2014

Let's Vary Piracy

This past weekend we took the kids to see their first live Gilbert and Sullivan performance, The Pirates of Penzance, at the same theater where they attend the summer drama workshop. (Indeed, two of the more youthful pirates were familiar faces from past workshops.) This was a pretty safe bet as far as kid enjoyment was concerned, being as there were enough girls in fancy dresses to satisfy the girls and enough sword fights to satisfy the boys. And we were not disappointed, except that we probably should have brought more snacks.

For those who are not already Gilbert and Sullivan fans, the thing about them is they combine beautiful music with total absurdity. Imagine a Victorian Monty Python with soundtrack by Handel.

Watching this always prompts us to fantasize about performing in one ourselves someday. DOB has always wanted to portray the Modern Major General, a dream that cannot even be dampened by being in a wheelchair as it would be, if anything, even better done like that:

However, this time it has occurred to him that the real barrier to portraying the Modern Major General is that he is NOT a tenor. What's more, he's never been one. So he is now amending his dream to doing a rather stiff Police Sergeant in braces, if everyone else can do the flopping about:

If I'm going to pick a dream role, and if it is going to be rationally limited by age and vocal range (and not by the fact that my voice would be best appreciated in the chorus), I would have to go outside of Pirates, though. Ruth is not too bad, especially not once she gives up trying to charm young men and pursues piracy consulting instead, but she's a rather pathetic figure. Really all of Gilbert and Sullivan's middle-aged contraltos are more or less pathetic, generally being wracked with unrequited passion and aging body-image issues. But at least the Fairy Queen from Iolanthe is on good terms with herself (she sees nothing wrong with stoutness, in moderation) and her celibacy is not because she chases young men who spurn her, but because she's true to her own code (which she later manages to amend). And in a very silly world, Private Willis is one of the more sensible characters to become enamored with.


Diary of an Autodidact said...

It's lovely to find another G & S fan. Productions have been a bit hard to come by here, but the kids really do need to see one.

I must make one correction to your post, however. Gilbert patterned the music after the neo-classical period, not the baroque, attempting to make the grand opera of Mozart into silliness, rather than that of Handel. ;)

Queen of Carrots said...

Musicians. Picky, picky. ;-)

Wendy said...

Love, love, LOVE, Gilbert and Sullivan! I haven't seen Iolanthe yet, so thanks for the clip. I have to see if I can track down the video.

Queen of Carrots said...

Not that I want to make anyone jealous, but my late aunt gave me a set of DVDs of all of them.