Once upon a time, there was a boy named Fredric, a young nobleman who was mistakenly apprenticed to a raucous but ineffectual band of pirates until his 21st birthday.
As his birthday arrives, he disavows the pirates’ way of life and falls for Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley. When the Pirate King discovers that the general has lied about being an orphan to keep the pirates from stealing his belongings and carrying off his bevy of beautiful daughters, they vow to bring about his demise.
But Frederic also has truths to learn about his forced servitude to the pirates for longer than he thinks.
It’s almost time to say ‘Ahoy!’ to a cast of “swashbuckling” pirates and “beautiful” daughters from the Langley Secondary School, presenting the musical production, The Pirates of Penzance.
The musical, originally produced by Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert, is adapted by the school’s theatre team and runs May 19 to 21 and May 26 to 28.
For Grade 12 student Aaron Cumberbatch, the production offered an opportunity to express himself and get to know a character. Cumberbatch plays Frederic, and his favourite part of the show is the trio scenes with Ruth and the Pirate King as they uncover the major general’s secrets.
This year’s show will feature an orchestra of community members.
Patrick McMath, artistic and stage director, recalled when his crew had adjusted to COVID guidelines during the rehearsals.
“It was an enormous challenge,” he said. “Navigating the mental toll on ourselves and our students, who have been masked for two years, has been a lot of work, as they are feeling vulnerable on several levels.”
McMath lives on the saying, ‘the show must go on.’ For him and others in the team, continuing the musical theatre program is important as it gives the student an expressive outlet.
For students as well, the return was welcomed.
Myles Nield, the teacher of skills exploration, woodwork, electronics and technical theatre, noted increased student participation this year. Nield said the reason could be the excitement to be able to socialize with peers.
Patti Thorpe, music director, shared that this year, for the first time, the theatre team has welcomed a tech theatre club, which is responsible for building and painting the “huge” set.
“It has brought a new level of energy,” she commented.
A shipload of volunteer musicians contributed their time to help students with the production.
“They (volunteers) make a special experience for our students and they enrich the whole production for all of us,” Thorpe added.
Student Gabriela Coto Vidal, who plays the character of Ruth, said her favourite part was learning the meaning of her dialogues.
“They (dialogues) were written in a different time, but I found myself even more intrigued the more I read,” said the Grade 12 student.
Thorpe said theatre allows students to expand their singing ranges, polish their dancing skills, and learn that “the more they put into something, the more they will get out of it.”
The teachers and students are now hoping to get support from the community to fill seats.
“Live theatre needs live audiences to flourish and grow. Support your future artists and performers and pick up some tickets today,” McMath concluded.
The shows will start at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and on Saturday at 8 p.m. For tickets and more details, people can visit the school district’s website at sd35.schoolcashonline.com.
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