A rollicking good time was had by all over the weekend as a pirate ship docked briefly in West Tisbury, spilling forth a crew of not-so-fearsome buccaneers, a gaggle of pretty maidens in distress, and a cadre of Keystone cop-style bobbies to act out a silly saga of the high seas.
“The Pirates of Penzance,” the comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, made the perfect vehicle for a spirited group of seventh- and eighth-graders at the West Tisbury School’s annual musical, where a couple of exceptional performances gave a preview of emerging big talent.
The classic light opera tells the tale of Frederick, a young man of good breeding who is mistakenly indentured to a band of pirates. As the story opens, he is just completing his term of service and is saying his farewells to his crewmates, explaining that, as a free man he will now be obliged to “devote himself to their extermination.”
Mitchell Chaves played Frederick, very capably managing an extremely large role that included singing and acting. As Ruth, his former nursemaid and hopeful sweetheart, Brigida Larsen did a marvelous job, complete with a spot-on British accent. Along with a clear, steady, polished singing voice, she also displayed talent for improv when she covered a missed musical cue by breaking into an impromptu spirited pirate dance.
When Frederick encounters a family of sweet, innocent maidens, he is enraptured by the flirtatious Mabel, played by Darby Patterson. The eight sisters (Ms. Patterson, Chloe Loftfield, Mikahla Sudarsky, Izzy Quinones, Pearl Veracruysse, Samantha Cameron, Julia Felix, and Marissa D’Antonio) were the epitome of springtime, dressed in charming matching floral dresses and festooned with flowers. They huddled together while singing with birdlike sweetness.
Ms. Patterson grabbed the audience immediately at her entrance as, in surprisingly skilled operatic style, she warbled her introductory song. With lots of eye-batting, exaggerated posturing, and an abundance of calculated coyness, the pigtailed Ms. Patterson proved herself a remarkably talented comedic actress. Every time she opened her mouth full of braces to sing, she knocked the socks off the audience. Keep an eye on this young diva. She no doubt has a successful singing career ahead of her.
As the girls’ imposing, grey-bearded father, Isaac Higgins did an admirable job delivering the show’s signature rapid-fire, tongue-twisting “I am the very model of a modern major-general” The forerunner of word-packed rap with clever rhymes, Mr. Higgins managed this lengthy singing/speaking song without a hitch. No easy feat.
It’s challenging for a girl to do a convincing job in a male role but Michelle DeGeofroy as the Pirate King held her own very well. Dressed in full pirate captain regalia, down to the high boots and flowing white sleeves, with her full curly locks spilling out from under her feathered pirate hat, Ms. DeGeofroy managed to cut a very commanding — and stylish — figure as the swaggering, swashbuckling King.
When a group of bumbling bobbies appeared on the scene to save the day, the footloose comedy was in full swing. Ben Booker, Connor Bettencourt, Matteus Scheffer, Amoy Ferguson, and Zachary Danz had a few very funny song and dance numbers as cowardly cops attempting to appear dignified.
The finale was an entertaining, full-out melee with the bobbies mixing it up with the rum-rowdy pirates, and feisty maidens dressed in demure white nightgowns and floppy nightcaps fending off the marriage-minded buccaneers.
It was a colorful swirl of choreographed chaos that proved to sort out all of the absurd dilemmas. And — you guessed it — everyone lived happily ever after.