FLINT — The Whiting proudly hosts the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players presenting The Pirates of Penzance on April 27 at 8 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $19 to $39 and are available online at www.thewhiting.com and by phone at 810-237- 7333 or (888) 8-CENTER. The Whiting is located at 1241 E. Kearsley Street in Flint, just off I-475 between the University of Michigan Flint and Mott Community College on the Flint Cultural Center campus.
This New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players production is your chance to get carried away by Pirates. Join the band of swashbuckling buccaneers, bumbling British bobbies, frolicsome Victorian maidens, and the delightfully dotty “model of a modern Major- General” for a rollicking romp over the rocky coast of Cornwall. This exuberant musical theater masterpiece, directed and conducted by Albert Bergeret with choreography by Bill Fabris, is performed in its original format. The rich sounds of full orchestra, chorus, and legitimate vocal soloists resonate with classic elegance and power while the company’s vibrancy, energy and contemporary sense of humor keep the show alive and exciting to a modern audience.
The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, was first performed at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on Dec. 31, 1879. It was the only Gilbert & Sullivan operetta to have its world premiere in the United States and it has remained popular both here and throughout the English speaking world ever since. Gilbert’s wit (always incisive but never vicious or dated) and Sullivan’s memorable score (including the original tune from which “Hail, hail the gang’s all here” is drawn) are among the most valuable treasures of musical theater history.
Patter songs are a Gilbert & Sullivan trademark and Pirates features the most famous of them all, “I am the very model of a modern Major-General.” This jaunty tune has been cleverly set to different words countless times (Tom Lehrer’s element song a notable example) and used in commercials to sell everything from Campbells soup to Handi-wipes, cars, newspapers and other items.
Pirates also contains some of Gilbert’s most famous lyrics such as the often used quotation “a policeman’s lot is not a happy one” from the act two lament of the diffident “men in blue.” Other highlights of the show include “For I am a Pirate King”, the pirates’ “Here’s a first rate opportunity”, the policemen’s “When the foeman bears his steel” and Mabel’s show stopping coloratura aria “Poor wand’ring one”.
The plot of Pirates centers on the dilemma of young Frederic who, as a child, was mistakenly apprenticed to the pirates until his twenty first birthday. Since he was born in leap year on February 29, he is honor bound to remain a pirate until the distant date of 1940, despite his moral objection to piracy. Helping Frederic to deal with this unusual predicament are the brash Pirate King, Ruth – the pirate maid-of-all-work, romantic Mabel, and the delightfully stuffy Major- General Stanley
“Fresh, smart, and winning without gimmicks…. keen theatrical sense… consistent quality… the Gilbert & Sullivan canon enters its second century in the best of hands…” NEW YORK MAGAZINE
This performance of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE is generously supported by McLaren Flint, Health Alliance Plan, ABC 12, Town Square Media, Cars 108, All Weather Seal, The View Newspapers, Caravan Knights, WFNT, Michigan Public Radio, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, Charles Steward Mott Foundation and Ruth Mott Foundation. — G.G.