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The Pirates of Cabrillo

An updated production of 'Penzance' swoops in for a local appearance.

July 29, 1999|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Cabrillo Music Theatre ends its current season with something of a departure from its usual program of big-name Broadway musicals--Gilbert & Sullivan's 1879 comic operetta "The Pirates of Penzance."

This production isn't too far removed from Broadway: Although the show has been performed in this country for more than a century, the Cabrillo version is based on a production by Joseph Papp for the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1981, a version (starring Kevin Kline, Rex Smith and Linda Ronstadt) that was subsequently filmed.

This Papp-ized version is staged by director Art Neill, choreographer Jackie Neill (both of whom toured in the Papp production) and musical director Nick DeGregorio. It attempts to update the original somewhat by throwing in some additional gags, modernizing some of the musical arrangements and adding two songs that G&S had written for other operettas. (Papp died before getting the chance to similarly "improve" the score to "Oklahoma!" with a song or two from "South Pacific.")

It's large and flashy, with plenty of pirates, policemen and major-general's daughters dressing up the Civic Arts Plaza auditorium, headed by James Anent as the Pirate King, Scott Guy as the Major-General, Gerard Lebeda as apprentice pirate Frederic and Kristin Peterson as Frederic's love interest, Mabel. All are strong singers, and Peterson more than wrings the most out of "Poor Wandering One," though Lebeda looks a decade too old for his role. A couple of the secondary actors act (or overact) as if they know they're supposed to be funny--which makes them less funny than if they played it straight.

DETAILS

"The Pirates of Penzance" continues through Sunday at the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $16 to $32 and are available from the Civic Arts Plaza box office, at any Ticketmaster outlet or from Ticketmaster at 583-8700. For information or groups of 12 or more, call 497-8616.

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"PLAID" NOW AND FOREVER?: After successful runs at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theater and Ventura's Laurel Theater, what is becoming the official Ventura County cast of "Forever Plaid" (Steve Gunderson, Leo Daignault, Rodney Peck and George Miserlis) is moving to Moorpark.

Gold Coast Plays, which presented the Thousand Oaks production, has rented the Moorpark Playhouse for a lengthy run starting next week. That's good news for Linda Bredemann, owner of the former Moorpark Melodrama, whose financial problems with the facility led to a recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

"It's a wonderful theater," Gold Coast Plays artistic director Stephanie Angelini said last week. "The atmosphere is great, the acoustics are good, the house is nice and big and there are racks in front of the seat for your popcorn and Coke."

The plan, Angelini said, is to initiate plays at the Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theater--which is too expensive for long runs--then move them to the Moorpark Playhouse, which is only a few freeway minutes away.

"It's very frustrating to spend as much money and time as we do and only run four weeks [at the Forum]," she said. "We'll know after this run if it's an intelligent choice to move shows to Moorpark after the Forum."

Bredemann says she couldn't be happier. She's moving the Melodrama's Costume Annex to Newbury Park and is planning a new production, "Mission: Possible," for the Playhouse in October. "This [renting to outside producers] is absolutely where I wanted to be all along," she said. "I'll be able to pay my creditors and make my money off the snack bar."

DETAILS

"Forever Plaid" runs from Aug. 7 through Sept. 26 at the Moorpark Playhouse, 45 E. High St. in Moorpark. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets range from $25 to $28, plus a $1 service charge each. Previews will be held Aug. 5 and 6 at 7:30; all tickets are $20. For reservations or further information, call Gold Coast Plays at 497-4066.

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Todd Everett can be reached at teverett@concentric.net

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