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March 19, 2007

Pirates steal the show

by Eve Gleichman, Online Editor-in-Chief
Between their witty banter, over-the-top story lines and outrageous humor, Gilbert and Sullivan had "high-school-production" written all over their work. And good thing director Kelly O'Connor scooped the opportunity right up; with the hilarious "Pirates of Penzance," she, along with the cast and crew, nailed it all. Hurrah, hurrah!

"Pirates" follows young Frederic (senior Diego Ardila), who is meant to be celebrating his 21st and final year of apprenticeship as a pilot. Sadly, his dear hard-of-hearing nursemaid Ruth mistakenly raised him instead as a pirate (hey, the two words share a couple of letters), and soon reveals that, because he was born on a leap day of a leap year, poor Fredric is only five years old and is therefore bound to his apprenticeship until his 21st birthday.
Malcolm Foley takes the stage with his swaggering Pirate King during today's teasers for the upcoming spring musical. Ellie d'Eustachio
Malcolm Foley takes the stage with his swaggering Pirate King during today's teasers for the upcoming spring musical.

This isn't Ruth's only gaff – she nearly convinces the much younger Fredric to marry her, and Frederic, who has no one to compare to Ruth, comes close to taking her up on the offer. That is, until he meets Mabel (senior Karen Biddle), daughter of the Major General Stanley (sophomore Russell Ottalini), who sweeps Frederic off his feet and dares him to choose between her love and his duty to fulfill his apprenticeship as a pirate.

Voices this year were a forte, and in all the right places. New faces like juniors Francesca Blume (Ruth) and Zack Pinsky (the Second Lieutenant), and senior Leandra Tidwell (Daughter Edith) gave the show a fresh feel with impressive vocals and strong stage presence for more minor characters.

But the mind-blowing performance of the night came from senior Karen Biddle (Mabel) who left us all scratching our heads and thinking where has she been all these years? With pitch-perfect accuracy and a voice that could land her in the Washington National Opera next month, Biddle is like the unexpected meteor that'll knock you over and dominate the stage – while hitting all the right notes of all those off-the-clef arias.

That's not to say that she puts other voices to shame – Ardila makes a convincing Frederic with an impressive range, much energy and the enunciation that is so easily lost in these operettas. And let us not forget The Pirate King – junior Malcolm Foley – whose laugh-out-loud performance, beaded hair and feathered hat brings Captain Jack Sparrow to mind, while sophomore Adam Jackson leads the foosball-esque police force with fine projection and, of course, silly dance moves.

Really though, the whole cast deserves a hearty pat on the back for the vocal work in the production; from Ottalini's 2007 rendition of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" to the wonderfully ditsy ensemble performances of General Stanley's twenty-something daughters, the show lacks any sort of misfires here.

The musical would be nothing without the pit orchestra, conducted this year by Michelle Roberts, which is especially good this time. Everything is there – a happy balance between vocal and instrumental dynamics, a bombastic overture (albeit two minutes too long) and perfect synchronization with the memorable musical selections. Strings are particularly strong as tempo increases, horns don't overdo it, and junior Chao Xue's solo performance on oboe is certainly notable.

Pirate hats off to members of stage crew and set design whose ever-changing set this year is the best Blair has seen in four years. Roman statues, an exploding cannon and a giant masthead will make you feel like you're walking the plank yourself, while huge boulders and bright colors make the perfect backdrop for the lovely maidens.

Costumes are as good as the set; from the beautiful dresses of the General's daughters (down to the matching outfits for freshman twins Julia and Rose Wynn), to the Pirate King's feathered cap and bandit gear.

Operettas are risky productions to put on in a high school setting. But this year the Blair players have rolled up their puffy pirate sleeves and taken it head-on for what is arrr-guably the best musical performance Blair has ever seen.

"Pirates" will continue on Friday, March 23rd and Saturday, 24th, at 7:30 p.m. Student and senior admission is $5; adult admission is $8.



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  • 'Pirates' Rocks on March 20, 2007 at 5:57 PM
    I loved everybody. But Adam and the police force are the coolest!...Turren turrah turren turrah....
  • !!! on March 20, 2007 at 6:27 PM
    yea pirates!
  • =) on March 20, 2007 at 7:16 PM
    I'm glad the pit and stage crew were mentioned in this article. We work just as hard as the cast but often receive less attention...
  • ---------- (View Email) on March 20, 2007 at 7:24 PM
    correction: ...its actually tarantara tarantara though...but its the thought that counts. thanks
  • macrameshorts on March 20, 2007 at 7:53 PM
    i actually laughed for about 30 minutes during the policemen scene...hooray for campy musicals! good job you guys, it was hilarious!
  • musician on March 20, 2007 at 8:15 PM
    ahhh. good times in the pit. this week's shows will be even better though.
  • Policeman on March 20, 2007 at 8:25 PM
    good to finally get some recognition :)
  • yay on March 20, 2007 at 8:57 PM
    way to rock that foosball, policemen!
  • cast member on March 20, 2007 at 8:59 PM
    we're glad to know we earned your booty.
  • Hector Ochoa (View Email) on March 20, 2007 at 9:24 PM
    Thank u, for your kindly assistance 2 da performances in da last weekend; we really expect da best out of everybody: Cast, Stage Cru, Pit Orchestra and also Di Audience.We Hop 2 c u this last weekend with magnanimity in da proximity of da final oportunity 2 give the felicity 2 all this people of divinity who reside in this vicinity. Then I just want 2 remind u that: DA PIRATES RUL!!!
  • maiden on March 20, 2007 at 10:03 PM
    aww thanks for the support!!! I hope we still have a big audience on friday and saturday so come watch us!:)
  • uncredited pirate #4 on March 20, 2007 at 10:12 PM
    i was in the play and it wasn't good. it got really really REALLY old fast
  • Blazer on March 20, 2007 at 10:31 PM
    Here here! The musical was awesome this year! Congratulations and good job to everyone!!
  • PIRATE BLAZER on March 20, 2007 at 10:54 PM
    oh gosh I am still crazy for Crazy For You after last year (best preformance I have ever been to ever). I haven't even seen Pirates yet but I already love it.
  • policeman on March 21, 2007 at 11:21 AM
    FINALLY someone likes the policemen. i didnt know there was anyone out there that liked us. thanks
  • Random Black guy on March 21, 2007 at 1:40 PM
    Being on the side of the ninjas, this play offended me. Priates (dumb as they may be) would never resort to singing in unison. nor would they dance in that fashion. i mean seriously why would they even think about dancing with the general like they did in the musical. and honstally i don't even consider this show to be called a "musical". watching from the shadows of the cat walk i saw every detial that made this "musical" unbearable. what kind of pirate would wear something THAT bright. i mean c'mon!

    having slain many a pirate in my time, the behavior shown by these..."actors"?
    ....yeah......it was pretty bad.

    ~Fin~
  • Pirate King on March 21, 2007 at 2:20 PM
    Uncredited Pirate #4, you have discredited the mighty name of our piratical band. Why?
  • it really is on March 21, 2007 at 2:28 PM
    a glorious thing to be a pirate king
  • Hey on March 21, 2007 at 7:31 PM
    Hey policemen; you were definetly MY favorites! ^^
  • copper on March 21, 2007 at 7:59 PM
    glad to know that the cops were the hit of the show! there wouldn't be a second act, let alone a plot, without us....come out this second weekend and see more tarantara-ing!.....u know u want to!
  • it is it is on March 21, 2007 at 8:06 PM
    hurrah for the pirate king
  • crazy girl in pit :D on March 21, 2007 at 8:06 PM
    I'm jealous of you policemen. I WANT TO DO THAT DANCE! The one you do when you sing about "constabulary duties to be done to be done ... a policeman's lot is not a happy one" <3
  • pirate on March 21, 2007 at 8:46 PM
    with cat like tread...
  • uhhh, are you guys crazy on March 22, 2007 at 7:40 PM
    woah, I can't believe anybody actually LIKED this play, I found it dull and the singing awful. While Biddle could hit the high notes, that's not necessarily a good thing if it actually is painful to listen to.

    The lyrics showed no creativity and was simply a statement set to music, which really isn't all that impressive.

    Another thing, nobody could act and sing. The ensemble was bad and at some points teh music was ridiculously repetitive.

    Last year's musical was ten times as good as this year's, i really hope that O'Conner raises her standards next year and casts competant talent.
  • Ruth on March 22, 2007 at 8:21 PM
    WOW! Who are you? And where do you get off saying that? This show was incredibly hard to sing, and personally I think we did it amazingly. Let's see you try to do what the cast, crew, and pit did and pull it off nicely. And it's not like we wrote the music, so take that somewhere else. Totally harsh and uncalled for. Maybe you should open your eyes next time.
  • uhh on March 22, 2007 at 8:31 PM
    "simply a statement set to music"
    because its an operetta... thats what its supposed to be.
  • Re: uhhh, are you guys crazy on March 22, 2007 at 8:38 PM
    Let's give you 7 weeks to put together an opera from 1879.
  • Kelly O'Connor (View Email) on March 23, 2007 at 8:49 AM
    Re the comment that began "uhhh are you guys crazy": that sounds like awfully sour grapes to me. It's the easiest thing in the world to criticize, but ask yourself why you feel the need to spew this bile all over the comment page?
    Every year I read the comments and at least one malcontent trashes the show. Fine. Have your opinion. But remember that the targets of your trashing are fellow students. Would you want to be on the receiving end of that? I didn't think so.
    Until you (whoever you are) demonstrate your own acting prowess to an audience that may contain others who want to tear apart your performance, please do us a favor and keep your bad-natured--and frankly, inaccurate--commments to yourself.
  • Alum on March 23, 2007 at 12:13 PM
    Karen showed AMAZING talent, and anyone who trashes her clearly doesn't know much about singing.
  • Shawn the h_rney master (View Email) on March 23, 2007 at 1:03 PM
    I agree, that crazy statement is totally wrong!
    Bias!
    Inaccurate!...

    "...I am the modern model of a modern--" I CANT DO IT *kills self*
  • cast member on March 23, 2007 at 4:20 PM
    to "are you guys crazy":

    Why would you even want to post something like that? You're naturally going to get flamed, not because what you say is wrong (which it is) but because saying it is rude, unnecessary and just plain mean.

    We worked very hard on this. You don't have to like it, but you should respect it.

    And if you're going to trash the cast, at least have the courage to do it to our faces.
  • (View Email) on March 23, 2007 at 11:42 PM
    To Ms. O'Connor. I agree that the statements made were inaccurate, I loved the play, but the statement you made was a bit off. This person has not used the school stage, the school stage crew, been allowed to pick specific people (probably the best), or charge money to see the play. You have turned kids down for roles and are charging money to see the play, so just because whoever is commenting can't act doesn't mean he can't talk on this forum about people who are apparently the best in the school at acting and about a show that most likely he/she paid money to see.

    On that note, it was an amazing play, and I would reccomend anyone who hasn't seen it yet to go see it (tommorrow's last night I believe). Keep on putting on these incredible shows. There is a lot of talent at Blair on the part of the students as well as the teachers. Thank you for putting on the amazing shows that you guys always do.
  • Eli Barnett on March 24, 2007 at 1:03 PM
    Unfortunately, ruth forgot the words to the third line of the second song of the play. The person who played mabel, however, was amazingly good.
  • Roxanne on March 24, 2007 at 4:27 PM
    to: uhhh, are you guys crazy

    are. you. freaking. serious.
    the play was AWESOME!
    the singing, the dancing, the acting, everything!
    your just jealous of their mad skillz.

    lots of love to my girl annie, one of the hotttt police people
  • F.M. on March 24, 2007 at 4:50 PM
    I totally agree with "::" the whole point of having a forum on the Silver Chips Online website is to allow people to express there opinion.

    O'Connors comment: "please do us a favor and keep your bad-natured--and frankly, inaccurate--commments to yourself," is out of line, one of the many rights that American's enjoy is the freedom of speech, and by encouraging/suggesting forcfully that someone keep their opinion to themself is one of the first of many signs that will ultimately learn to mass censorship. By making this comment O'Connors is, in a way, promoting censorship.

    The likely-hood that everybody who sees even a professional play will like it is slim to none, so, while I didn't see the play so I don't know how good it was, it is typical for people not to like a play. Smashing somebody for their opinion is ridiculous, rude and utterly pointless.

    Think of Voltaire's famous quote:
    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    Allow that flamer their opinion, you don't have to agree with it at all, but regardless of your personal opinion, there are allowed to have it.
  • maiden on March 24, 2007 at 5:54 PM
    OMG "F.M.", "::" and "uh are you guys crazy" you guys are a pain in the butt! My god we worked really hard on this musical so just respect it. You are right you have the right to have your own opinions but to tell someone they suck is just rude! Okay fine, have your freedom of speech but didn't anybody teach you manners! There is a lot of talent in this play and if you haven't noticed every year the cast changes meaning we represent Blair not just one person. Also don't gang up on Mrs. Oconnor she also worked really hard in this play and deserves congratulations. A lot of people went into this performance; Cast, crew, pit, directors, costume designers, chorus teacher, etc) one of them you guys probably now and some might be your friends. Be nice and don't make us feel bad after working our butts of night after night.
  • Blazer on March 24, 2007 at 6:38 PM
    FM: just because it's your legal right to trash a preformance you didn't like doesn't mean you should.

    personally, I ignore all anonymous insults. if you're going to post something about the play that you wouldn't be willing to say, face-to-face, to the cast and crew, then don't do it in a public forum.

    tearing down other students work doesn't do anything.
  • Tarantara! on March 24, 2007 at 10:47 PM
    I loved the musical. It was wonderful. And sold out tonight! Good job to everyone involved! =)
  • Chao on March 25, 2007 at 1:18 AM
    so I heard about this malicious comment on chips, and came to read it. and I have to say, why care about this person's comment when he/she apparently don't know anything about music/operettas in general? I mean, you can comment on how bad the performance was. We are not Kennedy Center Opera House performers and if that's your standard, then I guess you may think it was bad. But to be criticizing the genius of Gilbert and Sullivan??? I think you probably should get a Ph.D. in English literature before you have a right to do that!
  • hello on March 25, 2007 at 11:13 AM
    F.M., I see where youu're coming from. But I don't see Mrs. O'Connor's statement as promoting censorship. Mrs. O'Connor clearly stated that "uh are you guys crazy" has a right to have--and express--his or her opinion, but that it was rude and inconsiderate to state it in this particular forum. This does not seem unreasonable, given that "uh are you guys crazy" made a statement that would be considered offensive to many members of the Blair community. He or she has a right to state that opinion--but Mrs. O'Connor has the same right to tell him or her that it was rude to make that statement, and for the same reasons.
  • cast member on March 25, 2007 at 11:57 AM
    I respect all of your opinions, but FM kind of contradicts their own opinion. You are defending the person who made critical remarks about the play by stating that they have a right to free speech. However, you go about it by telling ms. O'Connor that she should not have said what she said? You don't want people to tell others to keep comments to themselves (as you said in your entry) and yet you ultimately told ms. O'Connor to do just that. Hypocritical?
  • Right then on March 25, 2007 at 12:08 PM
    ...annnnnd back on the subject of the play...
  • Blair parent on March 25, 2007 at 2:13 PM
    We attended Pirates Saturday night and it was amazing. I've done many G&S shows, both in the chorus and as the costume designer. I've also seen five different versions of Pirates, all done as pro- or semi-pro productions. The Blair cast, crew and pit did an awesome job.

    This isn't just a musical, folks, it's an opera. Big Difference. This was not a watered-down version for high school drama productions. It was quite an ambitious production and the whole gang pulled it off brilliantly!

    Kudos to everyone!
  • Been there, done that. (View Email) on March 25, 2007 at 3:02 PM
    The show was probably decent. I didn't see it. But I think everyone should just chill. It's high school, the plays and musicals are what they are. Of course there will people who are not going to like them, but that comes with all theatre. Apparently many people enjoyed the show. I just think people get overly involved. Accept what the show was, good, bad, or mediocre and get on with it. Don't surround yourself with negative comments, because obviously other people loved it.
  • cast member on March 25, 2007 at 5:43 PM
    It doenst matter if there is any negative comments because we were sold out on Saturday and had to add 100 extra seats. Thats about 800 people who came to watch us in one night. Everyone laughed and were a great audience. so what if you dont like our plays, obviously other people did!
  • :) on March 25, 2007 at 6:43 PM
    I've seen many a professional play and I still loved Pirates... it was funny, well sung, well cast and the costumes and set were absolutely gorgeous!!!
  • JEG0719 pirate/cop on March 25, 2007 at 6:49 PM
    Hey guys, why are we listening to what “uh are you guys crazy” is saying. “Chaos” has a point, “uh are you guys crazy” doesn't have a history in theater to make his/her opinion valid. He/she is probably the kid that sits in the back of the cafeteria alone. And misery loves company, so what better than to trash the musical. Common, is the “lonely kid in the back”'s opinion really worth listening too? I didn't think so.
  • Crew Member on March 25, 2007 at 9:20 PM
    To all people who don't like the show:
    Whoever said pirates would never wear bright colors or sing in unison evidently knows nothing about pirates. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but don't trash the show just because it isn't your style. Some people like different types of music. Operetta music has repeating themes. The lyrics are actually very good. And please learn to spell competent. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but an educated opinion will get more respect.
  • Chao on March 25, 2007 at 10:56 PM
    To: JEG0719 pirate/cop
    HEY HEY HEY! My name is Chao, it's not a weird penname "Chaos" ... I'm the oboist from pit!!! How dare you not know me! ERRRRRR....
    Hey, my name is mentioned: "Strings are particularly strong as tempo increases, horns don't overdo it, and junior Chao Xue's solo performance on oboe is certainly notable." Thanks Eve!
  • jeg0719 on March 26, 2007 at 8:51 AM
    chao, sorry dude. I was typing fast so accidentally put an S in the end.
  • Vickie Adamson (View Email) on March 26, 2007 at 11:22 AM
    I saw the play three times. That alone is my testimonial regarding what an amazing production it was. And as I see live performances and musicals often--as in frequently--I have quite enough background for comparison to know that it was a spectacular show.

    The students in the cast were ALL amazing--from the most fantabulous Pirate King, Malcolm, to the Modern Major General, Russell, with a delivery that would tie the tongues of even the most loquacious orators among us. And Karen Biddle . . . her voice is simply magical. I can only wish for talent like that.

    I mention the leads, but everyone played her or his part; and the entire cast made the production delightful. That's why it is unthinkable that anyone would post such mean-spirited comments about the show, the cast, and the director. Yes, free speech is an American right. But hiding in anonymity is cowardly. If you have a real criticism and want to be taken seriously, identify yourself. It is not fair to any of the people who worked so hard to represent Blair so incredibly well to be thus assaulted.

    Good job, Mrs. O'Connor. I salute you. Ha-Haaa!
  • Hey on March 26, 2007 at 4:23 PM
    pirates are life
  • Spot Op on March 30, 2007 at 5:48 PM
    I've seen the play what, about 30 something times? Yeah, stage crew is a fun job, and this is one of my favorite productions at Blair. The funny thing is that I started crew hating the play for whatever reasons, then as time went by, I started to like it, but now I hate it; not that I've seen it so many times, its just that those dang songs are stuck in my head. Its like an Ipod Shuffle of Pirates of Penzance in my head.
    Its fun to dance along with some of the songs while on the side of the stage (the wings), and on the catwalk (with the little space there is up there) which some may think is weird, but hey, I find it weird too, but I still do it and you cant stop me.
  • BREATH, PEOPLE! (View Email) on April 2, 2007 at 8:30 PM
    jeg0719 has a point...everyone, just take a deep breath. "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent"-eleanor roosevelt
  • HA on May 20, 2007 at 9:48 PM
    THIS SHOW WAS AMAZING I LOVED IT IT IS MY NEW FAVORITE MUSICAL my favorite song was theeee sun will come oooout tomorrow bet your bottom dollar that tomorrrroooowwwwww
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