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Theatre Review (LA): USS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan, Adapted by Jon Mullich

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Gilbert and Sullivan cry out for parody, but because the material is satirical to begin with a take-off can be difficult. Sometimes you end up with a mess as the playwright tries to make fun of the satire. After all it is the satire of the original that has made it so successful for all these years.

Jon Mullich is the director and adapter of the "Star Trek" version of this classic operetta. Wisely they do the singing straight but just change the lyrics slightly to fit the twist. The word changes are not forced and are, in themselves, very funny.

The setting for this version is the U.S.S. Pinafore orbiting the planet Penzance in deep space. All the characters are there: the Scotty-like Bill Bobstay of Tim Polzin, an Asian Ralph Rackstraw (the handsome and sweet-voiced Aidan Park), the pretty heroine Josephine (featuring the strong voice of Ashley Cuellar), Captain Corcoran (upright Jesse Merlin), a shapely Buttercup (Mona King), and a trio of “Sisters, Cousins and Aunts” (Victoria Gonzales, Misha Bouvion, and Paton Ashbrook). The best invention is to have Dick Deadeye played as a green alien. James Jaeger played this lizard character and was brilliant: he never missed a tongue flick.

The direction by Mullich was swift and clear. There was minimal but effective choreography by Stephanie Pease. The set by Tony Potter was simple but evocative of the television show's set. The musical direction by William Reilly was very professional and the music moved quickly.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the show must be considered a success. It will probably run past the June 27th posted closing. It's a delightful way to spend a summer evening. The cast has a good time performing the piece and their enthusiasm is infectious. Go see U.S.S. Pinafore at the Crown City Company space, at a Lutheran church on Camarillo in North Hollywood.

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