The Pirate Queen

April 12,

Sometimes I am mystified by how differently critics review the same play.  Jacques LeSourd of The Journal News and Ben Brantley of the New York Times found major fault with this musical. I suspect they see too many and try, however unconsciously, to match new plays up with their personal favorites.  If you go to a play to enjoy it and then review it you at least give yourself a chance.  I suggest Ben & Jacques take some time off from theatre and do something else for a while so they can come back fresh.

The playwrights who brought you Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.  The choreographer who brought you Riverdance, and lots of others who brought you lots of other Broadway shows have teamed up to bring you The Pirate Queen, which opened on April 5th.

The story is of Grace O’Malley, the only female Irish clan leader of her time, four hundred years ago.  She fought for her people’s rights and dignity against a powerful Imperial England, eventually winning an audience with Queen Elizabeth I, herself a woman leading men.  This historic meeting of the Pirate Queen and the Virgin Queen accomplished in an hour or so what months of fighting and struggle could not do. 

So much for history.  As for the play, Grace O’Malley lives again on the Broadway stage at the Hilton Theatre on 42nd St.  Coincidentally, there are 42 in the cast.  If you like musicals;  dance;  fine singing;  a strong plot and excellent sets you must see this play.  If you like costumes you must triple see this play.  The courtly garb of the Queen and her attendants is elaborate at the least.  Queen Elizabeth, played by Westchester’s own Linda Balgord, has several changes, all of which will make a costume aficionado purr.  Costumes alone for this show cost $1.5 mil.  And you wonder why tickets are $110…

Unlike Riverdance, the Irish dancing is not the centerpiece of this play.  That is a good thing!  In this play the dancing is used sparingly and when it is, WOW!  The wedding scene was spectacular and the several other instances of Irish dance were not far behind.  Terrific!

If you are of Irish descent and want an uplifting connection with your roots, The Pirate Queen is the play to see.  If you are a feminist, you must see it too.  The rest of you, if you like Broadway at all, will not want to miss this beautifully done and touching play.

No great songs, but they do advance the story.  The Pirate Queen is not perfect, but it is worth seeing.