Friday, May 04, 2007

Family Day at the Opera

"Pirates of Penzance" is a funny show, but a lot of the humor is wrapped up in complicated wordplay, and a lot of the plot twists require a mature understanding to follow and unravel.

Yes, it's in English, and no it's not Fidelio, but it's not the Doodlebops either. Nevertheless, throngs of children and their optimistic parents packed the Harrison Opera House last Saturday to see a family-friendly production (that is to say, an abridged version) of the GIlbert and Sullivan classic. Did they understand every double entendre and every complicated rhyme? No. But they did have a good time.

The last time we were at the opera house was when we took Benny to see Agrippina. I assure you, the mood was very different on that night. Tired, angry elderly people shushing each other, and then falling asleep on their armrests. Serious citizens paying dire close attention to the stage. A hush. A lot of furrowed brows. Saturday was more like the mood you hear about when attending theater was a more popular pursuit. Rowdy.

If it bothers you when a silent moment on stage is interrupted by at least five kids asking to go to the bathroom, commenting on the state of someone's boogers, or complaining that their sister is touching them, then Family Day is not for you. But if you like looking around the audience during a big scene and seeing herds of children actually enraptured by what they're seeing -- leaning forward, clutching their programs, laughing out loud, urgently pointing and explaining things to their little brothers, then Familiy Day at the Opera is an experience you should enjoy. I have to say I totally loved it.

The production was raucous but not racy. The acting was hilarious, the and the props and sets were ingeniously made. Yes, it was a tiny bit disappointing when the Pirate King was a Jack Sparrow clone, but my kids loved that. All in all, brilliantly done. And we loved the little "commercial" for the Virginia Opera that was inserted into "I am the very model of a modern Major-General." Cute!

As a bonus, the lawn of the opera house had a carnival feel, with boucy rides and Radio Disney on hand to MC. Don't miss this event next year -- it's a great chance to expose your kids to the opera without exposing yourself to the haughty glares of the typical opera crowd.

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