Ian (lovingboth) wrote,

I, for one, always round horses

In 1980, Joseph Papp produced a wonderful version of The Pirates of Penzance in New York's Central Park, staring Kevin Kline as the Pirate King, Patricia Routledge as Ruth, Linda Ronstadt as Mabel, and Rex Smith as Frederic. This was videoed and you can buy the DVD transfer. The sound and vision are not great, but as a recording of a show you'd never otherwise see (it only had forty-odd performances) it's fine and proves, if you ever had a doubt, that Kevin Kline can sing very, very quickly. Every subsequent production since should at least attempt to match this one, even if not all try (I'm looking at you, ENO in 2004...)

In 1981, the production transferred to Broadway with 3/4 of the leading cast staying the same - Estelle Parsons replaced Routledge. It ran for ages (nearly 800 performances) and a fabulously cast West End version opened in London the following year, again running for ages.

In 1983, it was filmed. Again, 3/4 of the leading cast was the same - this time, Angela Lansbury was Ruth - and I've been after a copy ever since.

Well, it took years, but a DVD transfer of the film was finally released in the US in September 2010. As it was such a long wait, and given that it may or may not be released here, I ordered one via someone on Amazon and it arrived just before Christmas. Hooray for a) multi-region DVD players and b) the way that modern PAL TVs will show NTSC as well as it can ever be shown.

Given that the lyrics are long out of copyright, you'd expect that the subtitles would get them right. They do (and also vary their position on the screen depending on who's singing) except for some of the changes that the Papp production made...

So in order to rhyme with 'strategy', the Major-General famously sings
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee

Here, he's asked to sing that verse again, "really fast", and he does so, ending this time with
You'll say a better Major-General has never rode a horse

except that the subtitles say it's
You'll say a better Major-General has never round a horse

You what?!?

Apparently partly because Linda Ronstadt liked one of them, the production also added two songs from other G&S, including the 'My eyes are fully open' patter song from Ruddigore. This is acknowledged in what's now Ruth's bit:
So I'll sing this song from Ruddigore, it really doesn't matter

except the subtitler reckons it's
So I'll sing this song for ruddy good, it really doesn't matter

Even with this, the disc is 'ruddy good' and highly recommended.

This entry was originally posted at http://lovingboth.dreamwidth.org/412245.html, because despite having a permanent account, I have had enough of LJ's current owners trying to be evil. Please comment there using OpenID - if you have an LJ account, you can use it for your OpenID account. Or just join Dreamwidth! It only took a couple of minutes to copy all my entries here to there.

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