The Pirate Queen was a stage musical presented by the production team behind Riverdance, who commissioned Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, the French songwriters of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. The show, which ran on Broadway for an unsuccessful ten-and-a-half weeks between April 5 and June 17, 2007, was what perhaps might have been expected from such a pairing, a production celebrating the life of "legendary Irish Chieftain Grace O'Malley" and detailing her activities as a pirate as well as her personal life, with a lot of room for high-stepping dance numbers. As they had in their commercial successes, Schönberg and Boublil took hold of a historical period and then focused in on romantic melodrama. Boublil, assisted by co-lyricist John Dempsey and co-lyricist/co-librettist Richard Malty, Jr., turned O'Malley into a proto-feminist, even drawing in an eventually sympathetic Queen Elizabeth I. Less politically correct than simply pandering, however, the lyrics never became sufficiently particular to make the story more than the contrasting simplistic pronouncements of generalized characters. In their past efforts, Schönberg sometimes had rescued Boublil and his English-speaking assistants by providing music that was moving no matter what trivialities the singers were given to mouth, but here, attempting to sprinkle in unfamiliar Celtic and Elizabethan elements, he seemed to have lost his gift for melody much of the time, not even managing to come up with a couple of the adult contemporary American Idol-style power ballads that were his métier. He did provide plenty of what was in essence underscoring to recitative, but little in the way of memorable music. The cast, led by Stephanie J. Block, seemed at a loss how to perform the largely inert musical material and took a professional, but uninvolved approach. The result was a theatrical disaster that found few defenders and even fewer paying customers during its brief run.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann