The Pirates of Penzance – OP Community Theatre review

OPTC opened its final show of the season with a bit of theatrical magic, an absolutely and incredibly charming revival of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “The Pirates of Penzance“. This show is over one hundred years old, but has retained its charm and popularity, as evidenced by the enthusiastic audience, who responded with repeated and prolonged applause and laughter throughout the show. It is not to be missed.
The story revolves around Frederic (played with great comic flair and a wonderful voice by Travis Young) who is leaving the group of sentimental and lovable pirates since his apprenticeship is over. Erin Gawera plays Ruth, his nanny; she is the only woman he has ever known and she leads him to believe that her aged face is a hallmark of beauty. Ms. Gawera is an excellent singer who is delightful in this role, and cuts quite a figure in her pirate’s garb. (Note: The role of Frederic has been double cast, and Joe Plumlee may be performing when you attend.)
THEATRE_Pirates-CRW_8217-MA bevy of pretty sisters come for a picnic to the rocky seashore where the pirates are partying. Frederic discovers youth and beauty as he falls in love with Mabel (stupendously sung by the very lovely Ellen Marini). The young ladies are described as beauties by their father and he is absolutely right, they are gorgeous and can sing and dance as well.
Dave Alan Thomas, who had done so many great leading roles on local stages, including those in Pippin, Spamalot, and The Producers, adds another famous role to his impressive resume with Major-General Stanley and brings down the house when he sings the terrific “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.
THEATRE_Pirates-IMG_9476-MThough a technicality, Frederic is forced to rejoin the pirates, and later, a group of bumbling and mumbling cops, using techniques borrowed from the Keystone Cops and led by Kurt McCall, as the Police Sergeant, comes to arrest the outlaws. The hilarious policemen were Tom DeBorde, David Cannedy, “Mac” McGlothlin, and Tim DeBorde
Randall Delone Adkison as the Pirate King is larger than life and would-be actors would do well to pay attention to the wonderful projection he uses when speaking. Adkison’s voice is mesmerizing when he sings. Steve Cohn, with his magnificent (and real) white beard, is Samuel, the Pirate King’s lieutenant and right hand man.THEATRE_Pirates-IMG_9299-MThose beautiful young ladies, with whom you are going to fall in love, are Sarah Worwetz, Loreal Liske, Hope Rendell, Brianna Wilson, Danielle Summerton, Erika Fuentes, Isabelle Scott, Lindsay Liske, Melissa Losure, and Rosemarie Cubbedge. Artistic Directors Brenda Cohn and Tim DeBorde did a marvelous bit of casting. We especially liked the pirates, who besides being handsome, are lean and mean and muscular. And they also sing and dance with gusto. Playing the pirates are Andrew Cubbedge, Benjamin Scott, Brendon Bailey, David Monticalvo, Jeremy Ferri, Rick Cubbedge, and Wade Taylor. If you are familiar with the show, you know that the pirates arrive in the very first scene in a ship. We have seen this show many times and have seen the ship portrayed in many different ways, but none were as unique as Orange Park’s approach. No, we won’t tell, you have to see it for yourself. The music was provided by Charlie Mann on keyboard and Heather Baerga on flute and was excellent. The Set Design/ Construction/ Artistry by Kurt McCall was in keeping with the expansive spirit of the production, and included sets for a rugged Cornwall coast, and a colorful ruined chapel constructed of stone. Costume Coordinator Sally DeBorde and her team captured all the color and flavor of the age with vests and boots for the pirates, uniforms for the law-abiding, and romantic flowing dresses for the women. The Co-Directors assembled a terrific team. The musical is polished and professional, and a round of applause goes to Vocal Coach Sonia Lewis, Choreographer/Dance Captain Melissa Losure, Stage Manager April Burke and Assistant Stage Manager James McGriff, and the Backstage Crew, Scarlette Johnson and Emma Brenner, who moved all those sets and furnishings around. We highly recommend “The Pirates of Penzance.” The is an extraordinary production and well worth the nominal $20.00 ticket price. Thanks, once again, for the continued financial support of theatre in North Florida by the Tom Nehl Fund of the Community Foundation. The play opened on June 6, 2014 and will run through June 29. The theatre is at 2900 Moody Avenue, in Orange Park, Florida. For reservations and information, call (904) 276-2599 or visit


About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.