The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty
Coming to the Bagley Wright Theatre at the Seattle Repertory Theatre
July 10th-26th, 2020
Stage Director: Phil Lacey
Music Director: Bernie Kwiram
More information available in Spring 2020
Previously performed by the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society in 1956, 1960, 1968, 1978, 1989, 1998, 2006, and 2015
What’s the story of The Pirates of Penzance?
The show begins at a piratical celebration for Frederic’s 21st birthday. He had been apprenticed to a band of pirates when he was 8 years old - an accident on the part of his nursemaid, Ruth, who had misheard the original order to send him to a “pilot” - but Frederic has still managed to learn sea-faring all the same. His apprenticeship ends at midnight on his 21st birthday, and so all the pirates hold one last “hurrah” before sending Frederic out into the world. Frederic, with an innate sense of right & wrong, has determined that he will have to join the police force upon ending his bout of piracy, and will inevitably have to turn the other pirates in.
On a nearby portion of the coastline, a gaggle of girls make their way to what they believe to be a secluded spot on the rocky beach to have a picnic. Frederic, having never seen a woman besides Ruth since he was 8, is overcome by the ladies’ beauty and makes himself known to them. One of the girls, Mabel, takes pity on him and it’s love at first sight for Mabel & Frederic.
Unfortunately for the ladies, the band of pirates happens upon their picnic and decides to capture & wed them! Hearing a commotion, the girls’ adopted father, Major-General Stanley, arrives in the nick of time to defend his daughters. Having heard of the decency of these Pirates of Penzance, the Major-General claims to be an orphan to appeal to the pirates’ good nature; it works, and the pirates let the ladies & the Major-General go.
At his estate, the Major-General is struggling with the fact that he told a lie to the pirates, and his daughters console him. The Sergeant of Police & his men arrive, assuring the Major-General that they will protect him & his daughters in case of another pirate attack.
Meanwhile, Frederic has joined the police to atone for his misdeeds as a pirate. It is at this time that the band of pirates find him alone, and tell him of an important discovery: Frederic was born on February 29th - leap day! He only has birthdays every 4 years, which means he must remain apprenticed to the pirates until he’s in his 80s and has his “official” 21st birthday. Frederic agrees to this logic and rejoins the pirates; with his loyalty switched, he tells them of the Major-General’s deception, and pirates agree to mount another attack.
Frederic steels away to see Mabel again, and tell her of the news. She agrees to wait for him to complete his newly-revised apprenticeship, but then the pirates arrive at the Major-General’s estate to have revenge! As the pirates close in, the policemen arrive to defend the Major-General and his daughters.
Who will emerge victorious? Will Mabel & Frederic have a happily-ever-after? Is anyone actually an orphan?