Let's straighten out a few points in previous comments first. This is the video of the original stage production, which started at the Delacourte (outdoor) theatre in New York's Central Park (it was free!) and then moved to Broadway (indoors) with a slightly different cast and then was made into a proper film - again with minor cast changes.
Patricia Routledge originated the role of Ruth but was replaced on Broadway by Estelle Parsons. In the film, the role of Ruth was taken by Angela Lansbury. This was the only principal role recast in any incarnation of the Park/Video, original Broadway, or film version. I don't know why Routledge and Parsons were replaced.
The smaller character of Samuel was also re-cast on Broadway (Stephen Hanan took over). Oddly, when the film was made, the original Broadway cast recorded in a New York studio singing the soundtrack, but finances prevented those playing the smaller roles from actually going to England to do the filming. English actors played Kate, Edith, Isabel and Samuel, lip synching to the original Broadway cast.
This 1980 video isn't quite as technically bad as some claim. The percussionist is practically a major character and a love duet between Frederic and Mabel turns into a trio with the conductor in the middle. But all in all it is certainly watchable. It is unfortunate that a jet passes over the park just when the singers launch into the a capella "Hail Poetry", but the sound is not all that bad. I had to jack up the volume on my home theatre a bit to compensate.
Having seen the original cast live on Broadway, I was happy to finally see Routledge in the role of Ruth. She does a bit of ad libbing here and there but is very good. PIRATES was her last New York musical after appearing in a string of flops including a disastrous 1976 musical called 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE where she played all the first ladies. After PIRATES she returned to England and...well, the rest is television history. The Samuel in this video is much more operatic than his Broadway replacement Hanan. The incredible George Rose is in top form here while the later film version is better for the other principals, who had three years to perfect their roles.
This video also gives us the complete Act One. The film version fades out before Ruth's final plea to Frederic. Other differences (vocally and visually) between the Park (this video) and Broadway/Film are minimal. If you are a G&S purist, this Wilford Leach version is not for you. But it has become the standard interpretation of PIRATES in stage productions everywhere.
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