Pirates of Penzance

by Rachel Pledger '07

A seafaring adventure complete with maudlin pirates, fair maidens, an outlandish Major-General father, and a stalwart if not somewhat incompetent Scottish brigade took to the stage Thursday, March 8, as the Department of Theater, Film, and Television debuted The Pirates of Penzance. This contemporary interpretation of the 1980 Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta attracted an enthusiastic audience, a few even moved to commemorate their pirate fandom in costume.

Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Theater, Film, and Television Bart McHenry, MFA, directed the production. McHenry notes that the production, which debuted under the direction of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan in 1879, is the most famous operetta in musical theater history, ironically claiming that title though it mocks the art form.

The story begins with a young man named Frederic, played by junior Music major, Chad Thompson in his stage debut, on his 18th birthday. Frederic accidentally became indentured to a ship of pirates when his nanny, Ruth, played by sophomore Theater Arts major Rae Henderson, mistook their vocation for pilots. The day is wrought with decision, for it is the first time that Frederic is allowed to leave his position on board the pirate ship and pursue a loftier vocation.

"[The Pirate King] played with the audience a lot, so it became more interactive and more fun on my part," said Senior English major Alex Gilbert.

Junior Liberal Studies major Jessica Fowler thought the production was hilarious. "I especially liked the Scottish brigade. I thought they were really funny! The Police Captain did a great job," said Fowler.

The Pirates of Penzance continues March 15-16, 22-23 at 7:30 p.m.; March 17, and 24 at 2 p.m.