the local news paper "Times Record News"
It’s the one thing you won’t get at Backdoor Theatre’s Summer Youth Musical production of “Pirates of Penzance.” What you will get are a gaggle of giggling girls, pesky-pesky pirates, an anti-maiden named Ruth, heroes who look an awful lot like Keystone Kops, general mayhem, and a general by the name of Major Gen. Stanley, who’s quite the spry dancer.
You’ll also get a generally fun, always wacky show with an energetic young cast that knows how to have fun on stage — something that translates to the audience.
I imagine a lot of the success of this bright, brimming, well-oiled machine owes itself to director Matthew Griffin, a Midwestern State theater alum who also helmed the 2009 Summer Youth Musical production, “Les Miserables.”
Chalk success No. 2 up to director Griffin, whose touches are seen all over this show: the whimsically weird Tim Burton-esque touches in some of the costuming and set, co-designed by Rich Medal (like the big, googly moon), and I imagine he helped the cast pull out those big, over-the-top, outlandish moments.
But, not to take anything away from the cast. They didn’t miss a beat at a preview performance Thursday, from the Reggie Milam-led choreography, to the staging overseen by Tina Carroll, to the singing, thanks to musical direction by Karlene Boucher (they didn’t even falter during the ridiculously wordy and famous “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” song).
A little about this 1879 comic operetta by Gilbert & Sullivan: It’s about a pirate’s apprentice named Frederick (Andrew Duncan) who has reached his 21st birthday and has thus fulfilled his contracted duty to the band of good-hearted pirates he’s been sailing the seas with for years (good-hearted because they never attack a party bigger than themselves and seem to have a soft heart for orphans).
Released from his duty, Frederick abandons his nursemaid, Ruth (a wonderfully wicked Kelcie Bush) — pretty much the only woman he’s ever seen — and stumbles upon the beautiful and fair daughters of Major Gen. Stanley, complete with golden locks (Brianna Barnhart, Caitlin McNeely, Disa Hairell, Margaret Duncan, Patricia Biera, Jennifer Eakins and Hanna Brooks). But it’s one daughter he falls for, Mabel (Michelle Lackey). Frederick intends to remain with Mabel but, alas, there’s a pickle.
As it turns out, Frederick hasn’t reached his 21st birthday, since he was born in leap year, and the Pirate King (Zack Brasfield) demands he returns to service and fulfill his duty.
While this “Pirates” cast is strong all the way around, several standouts made their mark in the show, like Kelcie Bush as Ruth. She’s a cackling, witchy-type with one of those life-eating laughs, and the audience goes on this wild ride with her. Mickey Jordan is hilarious as the Major General, particularly when he suddenly busts out the Lady Gaga-type and Beyoncé dance moves. His performance is all in his body language. And Michelle Lackey has her own moment in her performance of “Poor Wandering One.” She takes her time and really draws the audience with her as she hogs the stage with her long-drawn-out vocal turn. And Corey Rauscher gets the best costume award, particularly his ridiculous pirate pants and striped socks topped with red bows. Classic.
The only down sides of the show are that it was difficult to hear Mickey Jordan during the “Major General” song, and the operetta does slow down a bit in the second act.
Still, it’s not enough to declare this a scurvy of a show. So go ahead and sail those seven seas with this Backdoor cast, which also includes Tim Tatro, Landon Cantrell, Alla Cerreta, ShyAnn Carroll, Peyton Hart, Wes Alexander, Lee Williamson and Jonathan Barnes.
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Friends and Family night was last night, it officially opens to the Public tonight! The last dress Rehearsal was NOT without its mishaps... a nearly packed house, actors called to places, and THEN the light board would not work! The tech crew thought the building may have been struck by lightning, and so we all ahd to wait about 27 minuets until the master tech man could get to the theater to check it out.
We were bored so we made the video saying "The powers out, so Everyones Going to Mick's", and not TWO SECOND later they fixed the problem.... the light board had been unplugged! So the show went on, back to places we went and the overture started the first act was a whirlwind, I wasnt loud enough so tonight I will project even more. The audience LOVED my costume and antics (you see I wear a kilt), and during the Major Generals song I do a 'little dancing' of the Charleston, Bad Romance, Single Ladies, and Peyton Place after midnight kind... They roared with laughter during the dance, they clapped at my speed and clarity, (they even clapped for a long time during a split second key change in mid song ) So they must have liked it! Second act went even faster, all of us singing and dancing, the Cast Crew and orchestra did a WONDERFUL job! The mess ups were minor, and the audience reaction MAJOR all in all a great show, and a fantstic last dress rehearsal.