North Shore Light Opera Society
Live, High Value, Classic Musical Theatre on the North Shore
The Pirates of Penzance
Producer: Roger Nelson
Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance is, in a nutshell, all about duty: Who to serve, or rather to slave for - and whether that's a choice we make or which is (perhaps already) made for us. And as we decide, or think that we do, can that change or be changed by others? Poor Frederic has it made for him, but immediately changes that, himself, and then has it changed on him, again - and not for the last time, either! Meanwhile, there is the familiar Gilbert & Sullivan operatic soprano (Mabel) and the almost-crazy, certainly older maid (Ruth) plus a lot of mis-guidedly-good intentions from a bunch of, well, pirates, who would love nothing better than at least something resembling matrimony... but they don't much care for a Major General as a father-in-law any more than he much cares for them as sons-in-law! Police at least try to do their duty... However, all of this begs the proper Canadian question: What should one do, eh? Oh, and the words come fast.
As many as three different people managed to originate each role. Copyright laws being what they were not, then, this show had an odd beginning: An incomplete and thoroughly read (though barely costumed) version played first, and once only, on 30 December 1879... and not that far from the actual Cornish British town of Penzance, by-the-way; and then the very next night (New Year's Eve) a staged version played in New York City that included the Overture, which had only been completed (in New York) on the morning before (why the English company had an incomplete score - no jet travel, back then). The usual British production didn't actually open until later, in mid-Spring, 1880.
Other than limited, notable exceptions (particularly the 1981 Joseph Papp New York City production with Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt and Angela Lansbury) 'Pirates' is considered best done in its traditional form. This production, here, attempts great faith toward a mostly traditional and faithful rendition; however, an original (1880s) reference to 1940 now seems dated, so we've really modernized things, and placed it much closer to home, physically, too.
We truly hope to entertain you with what you've come to expect from the hugely triumphant duo of G & S, and from North Shore Light Opera, with one of the best-loved works in the genre... done pretty much the way it should be.
Your Director, Heller