IN SELECTED SCENES THAT ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR ON-LINE VIEWING!: DARRYL MAXIMILIAN ROBINSON ENJOYED HIS MOST FAVORITE L.A. STAGE ROLE EVER WHEN HE STARRED AS MAJOR-GENERAL STANLEY IN GILBERT & SULLIVAN'S "THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE"!
LOS ANGELES - In October of 2014, with three days before previews, Director / Choreographer / Performer Drew Fitzsimmons ( who was co-starring as The Pirate King ) knew that his San Pedro Theatre Club revival production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance " was in trouble and he was in a serious bind. His co-director, co-choreographer and co-star ( appearing as Major-General Stanley ) had informed him that due to medical issues he would not be able to appear in the show during the previews of the production, and without telling Mr. Fitzsimmons or the show's Executive Producer James Blackman, announced to the entire cast that the opening of the show would have to be postponed! With performance commitments to theatre subscribers already set and a need for ticket sales of the show to help keep the intimate performance space in San Pedro in operation, San Pedro Theatre Club Artistic Director Fitzsimmons and Producer Blackman knew that cancelling preview weekend or opening weekend performances was not an option. With the clock ticking down to audience members arriving, and facing and dealing with unhappy members of a cast who might bolt if the show didn't go on as planned, Mr. Fitzsimmons turned to the one performer he knew who was willing and able ( albeit with script and score in-hand throughout preview weekend ) to pull off the role of Major-General Stanley on such incredible short notice or CRASH AND BURN TRYING! Drew Fitzsimmons had worked with and saw musical theatre veteran Darryl Maximilian Robinson delight audiences, receive fine reviews and capture a 2013 Los Angeles Kentwood Players' Marcom Masque Theatre Award nomination for Best Actor In A Major Supporting Role for his performance as the historic black orator and educator Booker T. Washington in a musical revival of Stephen Flaherty's, Lynn Ahrens' and Terrence McNally's "Ragtime" at The Westchester Playhouse in Los Angeles. He also knew Mr. Robinson was a trained and skilled Shakespearean actor whose clear and precise diction would be able to handle with ease the patter-style lyrics of G&S.
However, Darryl Maximilian Robinson was already cast and scheduled to appear in the dual roles of The Narrator and The Mysterious Man in the December 2014 Burbank Community Theatre revival production of Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's "Into The Woods" under the skilled direction of Josh Shaw at the 1,200-seat Hall of Liberty of Forest Lawn Cemetery in The Hollywood Hills. BCT's "Into The Woods" would mark Mr. Robinson's happy debut in a musical composed by the great Stephen Sondheim and he was thrilled to perform in it onstage with a live 22-piece orchestera in a cast that featured experienced musical theatre vets and opera pros! He, therefore, was not eagar or interested in taking on any additional performance duties during his preparation period, let alone a last-minute lead role in a Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera masterpiece being staged on the completely opposite side of LA next door to Long Beach!
He thought that Drew Fitzsimmons was insane and absolutely mad to ask him to face audiences and critics with three days only before the first preview! ( but the quirks and insane behavior of theatre folks when they are in a bind we'll save for another article! ). However, when Mr. Fitzsimmons made it clear that without his participation right there and then that the show might not open at all, Mr. Robinson ( a long-time G&S fan since playing the title role in "The Mikado" in a 1981 revival production staged by the late, great Ray Nelson at Chicago's Puppet Place Theatre ) reluctantly obtained a leave of absence from BCT's "Into The Woods" production team, and ( signing on to Fitzsimmons' Madness! ) made a limited, three-week commitment to "The Pirates of Penzance" in San Pedro until the show was fully up and running and a replacement for him could be properly rehearsed and prepared. And once journeying down to San Pedro and coming into the show, Mr. Robinson was pleased to discover that one of his favorite LA musical theatre performers, the highly-skilled actress-singer Jennifer Sperry would be appearing as the Major-General's favorite daughter Mabel Stanley in the revival, and talented young classically-trained tenor Chris Yeschenko would be playing Fredric. He was also delighted to work with adept comic performers Cindy Irwin Bullock as Ruth and Fabio Di Nino ( and later Deosick Burney ) as The Sergeant of Police. And Mr. Robinson ( though holding script throughout preview weekend ) had a grand time finding the comedy and playing the Major-General opposite the unflappable and unsinkable swashbuckling talent that is Drew Fitzsimmons as The Pirate King. In fact, the entire talented cast of young ladies and gentlemen in The San Pedro Theatre Club revival of "The Pirates of Penzance" ( as well as the effective modest orchestra members led by the gifted musical director Leslie Sharp ) were lovely theatre people Mr. Robinson was proud to share the stage with! And by the following week, when Mr. Robinson ( OFF-BOOK! ) finally and completely NAILED BY OPENING NIGHT "I AM THE VERY MODEL OF A MODERN MAJOR-GENERAL," the show ( and cast ) became one Mr. Robinson had grown a great deal of affection for.
Not only did audiences cheer his work as Major-General Stanley in "Pirates" but Mr. Robinson received one of his best Los Angeles theatre reviews ever when drama critic John Farrell in the October 21, 2014 edition of The Daily Breeze wrote:
"Perhaps most of all, it requires a sterling Major-General Stanley. This is the role that everyone remembers, and Darryl Maximilian Robinson was delicious singing the Major-General's "I Am the Very Model of a Model Major-General," adding just a touch of allowed originality to the part by interacting with the audience. His was a genuinely memorable performance worth seeing again."
Darryl Maximilian Robinson loved every minute of playing Major-General Stanley in 2014 San Pedrio Theatre Club 135th Anniversary Revival Production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" ( even when with-book-in-hand he occasionally crashed and burned in previews ).This was possibly because coming into the role was a complete and happy accident beyond his own control or personal circumstances. And when his three-week run in the part was over, it was hard to say goodbye to such a fine and talented cast and such a truly wonderful part! But he had to return and finish his commitment to "Into The Woods" ( which he was also very well received in! ). And to this day, if you should ask Mr. Robinson what is his #1, All-Time, Most Favorite LA Stage Role? Without hesitation, he will answer:
"Major-General Stanley in "The Pirates of Penzance."