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‘Pirates of Penzance:’ a love story of bizarre misfortune

POULSBO — Enormous rocks lay on either side of the stage behind an open orchestra pit and the everyday items of a late 1800s pirate ship protrude downstage, into the audience’s collective face.

A burly gang of pirates raises the ship’s mast and rouse a bandit anthem. The song sings the story of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s classic “Pirates of Penzance,” presented by the NKHS drama department this weekend.

When the pirates raise the mast, the story is taken to sea where it begins and where Frederic — the story’s main character — has just finished his apprenticeship. He has grown up a pirate, but it was all by mistake.

Years before, Frederic’s family keeper, Ruth, was told to send him off to be a pilot, but her old ears misinterpreted and he was instead cast into thievery across the deep. Though Frederic’s heart is not that of a pirate, he fits in with this not-so-rugged crew. Even so, their ideals disgust him.

So upon his 21st birthday, he ventures back into the civilized world in search of the things he has been denied by a life at sea, most notably the quest to discover the opposite sex.

“(It) has so much more singing than any other musical I’ve done,” said NKHS junior Mark Sanders.

“This is the first lead I’ve had in a musical and it’s been demanding,” he said. “I’ve done about 15,000 push-ups in preparation for this role.”

He has done equally as many voice work-outs as he’s prepared to sing the lead role in the light opera musical.

“It’s been a big, big learning experience, totally different than anything I’ve ever done,” said the Pirate King, Jordan Rayblad. “In pop they can put your voice through a synthesizer and you can be the next Britney Spears, but this is opera, with opera, the feeling has to be there.”

“Pirates of Penzance” is something different than the NKHS cast has ever attempted, director Randy Powell said, and at first he worried about how his students would take to it. But he said the cast has embraced the play.

“It’s fun from beginning to end. It’s high quality entertainment,” Sanders said.

“Gilbert and Sullivan were some of the most creative geniuses of musical theater,” added Rickey Delaney, who plays the Major General in the production.

The play was originally produced in 1880 was written by Gilbert and Sullivan in the years leading up to the turn of the century. “It was sort of at a transition from opera to modern musicals so you get to see what we all know well as the showtime pop business sprouting from the old style.”

Audiences are invited to witness the fusion in at 7 p.m. March 3, 4 and 10 with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinees March 5 and 11. Powell encourages all to get tickets before hand, but they will also be available at the door.

Tickets are on sale now at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, Peninsula Video in Kingston, Kitsap Mall in Silverdale and Custom Printing on Bainbridge Island, $9 general admission and $7 for students.

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