"The Pirates of Penzance," which was engagingly performed by Catholic University students Friday night, caught precisely the spirit of the show with some of Sir Arthur Sullivan's most memorable tunes, including the brilliant monologues of the Major General and the Pirate King; the tender "Poor wand'ring one"; Ruth's confession of how she mistakenly apprenticed young Frederic to a pirate rather than a pilot; the lament that "a policeman's lot is not an 'appy one"; and the rousing chorus that we now know as "Hail, hail, the gang's all here." Give credit above all to director Jane Pesci-Townsend, who knows exactly how the show should look, beginning with a busily choreographed overture and including a fine-tuned sense of Victorian decorum. Conductor N. Thomas Pedersen led the small orchestra and the cast in a well-paced and accented treatment of the music. The words could sometimes have been better articulated, but the tangled story was well told and the young performers conveyed effectively the youthful spirit that imbues the work, particularly in Act 1.

The cast included several performers with professional experience, and the others rose to match their standard. Among the most notable were Kelly Tighe, who threw herself vigorously and with great comic effect into the ungrateful role of Ruth; Jon Hand, a properly swashbuckling Pirate King; Eileen Smith, a winsome Mabel; and Matt Greenfield, an impressive Major General.

-- Joseph McLellan

The student cast turned in an excellent production of "The Pirates of Penzance" at Catholic University's Ward Recital Hall Friday night.