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Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Pirates Of Penzance (1983)

When a young man (Rex Smith) turns 21 years of age, he has completed his apprenticeship to the Pirate King (Kevin Kline). Once free of him, he falls in love with a pretty lass (Linda Ronstadt) but the pirates aren't ready to let him off the hook so easily. Joseph Papp's 1980 production of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta enjoyed a great success on Broadway and the entire cast save one (Angela Lansbury replaces Estelle Parsons) recreate their roles in this film adaptation. Although the film is opened up, the director Wilford Leach doesn't bother to disguise its theatrical origins. What's been done is to give the film an even bigger "stage" to play on as the art directors have emphasized the artificiality of the sets rather than attempt to have a more realistic or natural setting.  So it plays out on a fake beach with fake rocks etc. which is fine as any realism would have only accented the theatricality of the piece. It's a raucous and engaging production though if you're not into Gilbert and Sullivan, you may tire of it easily. But I find their clever wordplay and patter songs irresistible. With the rubbery Tony Azito as the police sergeant.

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