‘The Pirates of Penzance’ at Wolf Trap by Erica Laxson

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players‘ presentation of The Pirates Of Penzance struck a chord with the audience at Wolf Trap and left us singing our way into Friday night’s sudden thunderstorm. Despite the oppressive 100 degree weather, the show was a fabulous success and inspired several generations of theater goers to make the best of it. Artistic Director Albert Bergeret has crafted a spectacularly entertaining show that channels decades of great theatrics, a little modern humor, and a perfectly picturesque staging.

The Pirates in 'The Pirates of Penzance.' Photo courtesy of New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players.

When indentured pirate Frederic (a vocally gifted Daniel Greenwood) reaches the end of his servitude The Pirate King (David Wannen as a hoot-and-a half villain who isn’t so villainous), he sets out on an adventure that takes him far, but leaves him close to home. First mate Samuel (David Macaluso with feet that move at the speed of light) is crafty and conniving, and a perfect sidekick.

Frederick is quickly smitten with Mabel (Sarah Caldwell Smith’s voice was the most enjoyable part of the performance. Every high note was perfection, and her comedic trills had the audience laughing uncontrollably), who is the first woman he has seen besides his nurse. Ruth the pirate maid of all work, and his former maid (a hilariously, loud and boisterous Angela Christine Smith) schemes with the pirate King to bring him back into servitude and away from his lady love.

When Major-General Stanley (James Mills wowed with his introductory performance of “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General and continued to pratfall and belt songs out with the best of them.) comes upon the pirates and his beautiful wards, all breath was baited. Sisters Edith (Erika Person), Kate (Amy Maude Helfer) and Isabel (Jennifer Piacenti) stood out from the other wards as precocious, strong willed girls, with delightfully unique quirks. The ensemble performances of “What Ought We to Do” and “Oh, Men of Dark and Dismal Fate” stirred emotions and earned hearty cheers.

Sergeant of Police (David Auxier plays the perfect buffoon in disguise. Also the dance captain, Auxier perfectly perfected comedic pitfalls and laugh out loud legwork) must get his loose legged band of police officers to defeat the merry band of Pirates. With a little luck, more duty than a loyal dog, and more then one rafter shaking solo, The Pirates Of Penzance promises to end on a good note.

The choreography by Bill Fabiris was reminiscent of the classic stagemanship of The Ziegfeld Follies. Entertaining to watch, the dancing often made the audience break into uproarious laughter. Light hearted and honest, there wasn’t a still toe in the room. Costume Designer Gail J. Wofford added the final flourish to the with stunning period constructions that screamed fun and foot-loose fancy free.

Anyone looking for an evening of great music and toe-tapping songs should make the most of their last performance in the DC area. 5 stars for a show adults and children alike will marvel at and the simple, yet beautifully crafted performance that promises laughter and joy.

The Pirate King (Keith Jurosko) and Major-General Stanley (Stephen Quint). Photo courtesy of The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players.

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one 15 minute intermission.

5 stars for a side-splitting evening of classic

Tonight’s final performance of The Pirates Of Penzance has been cancelled due to a power outage.



  1. It would have been nice to have seen this. However, we had tickets for Saturday night, and before we left for Wolf Trap, we tried calling and checking the Wolf Trap website to see if it was cancelled. There was no information given on the website, and they did not answer their phone. So we made the traffic-heavy trek from Maryland to Virginia, including paying $3.00 in tolls, only to be greeted at the entrance to the parking area by a female employee who told us it had been cancelled. She claimed that they had put that on the Wolf Trap website, but we looked three times before going, and if they did, they hid it really well. To say this left a bad taste in our mouths for Wolf Trap is an understatement. The least they could have done was to put a noticeable cancellation on the website knowing that people were coming from all over under somewhat difficult circumstances.


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