My absolute favorite musical: The Pirates of Penzance


Last year, my friend Liz and I spent many conversations gushing over our favorite movie musical adaptation, the 1983 HBO version of “The Pirates of Penzance.” We talked about how lame it was to watch it on VHS, which prompted my Christmas shopping quest of 2008: to find a DVD copy as her Christmas gift. After many hours of searching obscure media websites all over the world, I finally secured a copy for each of us. It was horribly overpriced, as it was a VHS-to-DVD transfer of questionable quality, but it was SO WORTH IT. Because of my success, she dubbed me “The Eternal Undisputed Queen of Awesomeness.”

And now, a year later, a much better version is available for free on Hulu. I could have asked for no better gift myself.


And now, time for some of my favorite quotes:

“Individually, I love you all with affection unspeakable; but, collectively, I look upon you with a disgust that amounts to absolute detestation. Oh! pity me, my beloved friends, for such is my sense of duty that, once out of my indentures, I shall feel myself bound to devote myself heart and soul to your extermination!” Frederic

“A sad mistake it was to make
And doom him to a vile lot.
I bound him to a pirate – you!
Instead of to a pilot.” Ruth

“Every moment brings a treasure
Of its own especial pleasure;
Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly” Edith

“Here, in this our rocky den,
Far away from mortal men,
We’ll be queens, and make decrees –
They may honour them who please.” Kate

“Oh, is there not one maiden here
Whose homely face and bad complexion
Have caused all hope to disappear
Of ever winning man’s affection?
To such an one, if such there be,
I swear by Heaven’s arch above you,
If you will cast your eyes on me,
However plain you be – I’ll love you!” Frederic

“For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General!” The Major General

“Hail, Poetry, thou heav’n-born maid!
Thou gildest e’en the pirate’s trade.
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail! All hail! Divine emollient!” All Cast

“Go, ye heroes, go to glory,
Though you die in combat gory!
Ye shall live in song and story.
Go to immortality!
Go to death, and go to slaughter;
Die, and every Cornish daughter
With her tears your grave shall water.
Go, ye heroes, go and die!” Mabel

“No matter. Our course is clear: we must do our best to capture these pirates alone. It is most distressing to us to be the agents whereby our erring fellow-creatures are deprived of that liberty which is so dear to us all – but we should have thought of that before we joined the force. Well, too late now!” Police Sergeant

“Come, friends, who plough the sea!
Truce to navigation, Take another station;
Let’s vary piracee with a little burglaree!” All Pirates

Undisputed Eternal Queen of Awesomeness

A few weeks ago, I had blogged about how I was on a quest for tracking down a DVD copy of the 1983 version of Pirates of Penzance for Lizzie. I looked through Ebay, Amazon, and a host of obscure international media websites. I was able to find a copy, and purchased two ridiculously priced DVDs (I wasn’t about to complete this search without a copy for myself). It was an SVHS transfer recorded from DirecTv, but it was my best option.

Tuesday the DVDs arrived in my mailbox. I talked Erin into previewing it with me while we cut out patterns for our vintage aprons. It was a night of domestic bliss…sewing, baking, and Gilbert and Sullivan. For being a VHS transfer, it was pretty dang good. Lizzie has said that she only has her very old VHS copy that has been viewed into the ground, and endured torture from her brother who can’t stand all the giggling in “Climbing Over Rocky Mountains.” It ain’t no Blu-Ray, but it’ll do. I can’t wait to watch it with her.

Speaking of, this is an invitation to all Elegant Ladies of Leisure (or refined gentlemen who don’t mind putting their masculinity into question)…an evening at the (home) THEATER:

Friday, December 26, 2008 at 7:00 pm
Pirates of Penzance on the big screen (well, a 42” HD tv)
La Verne, CA at my in-laws
We will have tea and crumpets. Feel free to bring frou frou desserts, parasols, lace gloves and period costumes, and if you’re daring…wear pancake makeup. You can even crochet a doily at the same time.

And even if Pirates isn’t your thing, we’ll be seeing Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at the Maverick Theater on Friday, December 27th. Let me know if you want me to reserve tickets…I’m trying to get a group rate.

My Pirates of Penzance Quest

One of my favorite musicals of all time is The Pirates of Penzance. It is a play that I’ve been in 3 times, once as a policeman and twice as a daughter of the Major General. My best friend Lizzie also shares the same obsession with Pirates. Especially the 1983 movie version. We can make quotes and comments about catlike tread, hailing poetry, pouring pirate sherry, and gaily treading the measure, and burst out into simultaneous song together. I’ve had other friends that love the play, such as Emily and Celeste, but nobody else has equalled my campy obsession with Pirates as Liz. And we’re not talking Jack Sparrow pirates; we’re talking singing, dancing, bumbling and squooshy-with-emotion pirates. She had posted a Facebook status update this week, referring to herself as being the “Very model of a Modern Major General”. And I replied back with “I know the kings of England and I quote the fights historical, from Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical.” And then we started texting back and forth about our love of the music and choreography and Rex Smith’s jewfro. Then the wheels in my head started turning, and I asked her, “Do you have it on DVD.” And she said, “I don’t think it’s even been released on DVD. I’ve got a horrible stage adaptation of it on DVD, and a discombobulated VHS version, but no DVD.”
And then my quest began. I told her, “I will do everything in my power to find this movie for you on DVD.” And she relied, “You would be the undisputed eternal queen of awesomeness.”

I NEED that title of Undisputed Eternal Queen of Awesomeness in my life. It would look good on a resume.
I’ve been researching all over the internet, and so far all I can easily find is the horrible stage adaptation on DVD. The HBO version stars Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith…and any other version is just not the same.

I plan to start a Facebook petition to HBO to release the movie on DVD, since they originally released it on VHS. But in the mean time, does anyone have a quality version of the VHS that I can rip into a DVD for Lizzie for her Christmas gift?