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THEATER REVIEW : Moorpark's Swashbuckling Success : Music Theater offers consistently impressive singing and effective performances of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Pirates of Penzance.'


There isn't a nicer group of buccaneers to be found plundering the bounding mainthan "The Pirates of Penzance." To them, fighting anybody weaker is dishonorable; their principles also prohibit causing any harm to orphans. Still, young Frederic is anxious to leave the gallant band, to whom he was apprenticed as a child when his nurse misheard orders to sign him up as a pilot.

It's typical Gilbert & Sullivan nonsense; the kind of British comedy--literate but supremely silly--that came to inspire such modern acts as the Monty Python troupe.

Moorpark College's Music Theater, which has been producing Gilbert & Sullivan shows under the direction of Marilyn Anderson for several years, has come up with another winning entry; thanks to consistently impressive singing and effective performances, it may be their strongest in some time.

Frederic is about to marry his nurse, Ruth. Even though she's several years older, she's the only woman he remembers ever having seen, assuring him that she's beautiful as the pirates snicker behind his back.

Suddenly, the pirates' hiding place is invaded by a covey of pretty girls, all wards of Major-General Stanley and all much younger than Ruth. Smitten by Mabel, Frederic is determined to marry her as soon as his indenture to the pirates is fulfilled.

The other pirates have their eyes on the remaining girls, much to the Major-General's distress ("I object to pirates as sons-in-law!").

Eventually, this all gets sorted out, with everybody happy.

Several actors familiar to regular fans of the college's musical productions appear here, joined by some welcome newcomers. Among the veterans are James Kirkland as the resolutely dutiful Frederic, Andrew Krigel as the very model of a modern Major-General, Robert Weaver as the police sergeant and Raymond Michael Hebel (whose day job is as an Elvis Presley impersonator) as the swashbuckling Pirate King. New to the Moorpark stage is soprano Julie Robles, wonderful as Mabel, especially on her character's signature "Poor Wand'ring One."

Anderson has double-cast many of the supporting roles to give exposure to more actors, but all performers listed above appear in all shows. In addition, there is an unusually large chorus, thrilling on the numbers that feature them. The indefatigable Darryl Archibald accompanies the entire show on piano.


* WHAT: "The Pirates of Penzance."

* WHEN: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; run concludes Sunday at 2 p.m.

* WHERE: Forum Theater, Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark.

* HOW MUCH: $8 general admission, $7 students and senior citizens, $6 children under 12.

* FYI: For reservations, call 378-1468.

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