'Pirates of Penzance' to sing, inspire laughter at Worthington's Memorial Auditorium
The most famous song from the piece is “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” variants of which have appeared in the Mass Effect games, Family Guy, Doctor Who, Scrubs and the Simpsons.
WORTHINGTON — After three attempts to bring the classic “The Pirates of Penzance” to the stage in Worthington, the silliest singing pirates in musical comedy history will set sail at 7 p.m. March 18 at the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.
“Come and have fun,” said Tammy Makram, manager of Memorial Auditorium. “It’s an evening of sitting in a seat and laughing and enjoying some extremely talented people.”
The plot of the show begins with a simple misunderstanding: rather than apprenticing a baby in her care to a pilot, as the parents wanted, a nursemaid mishears and apprentices Frederic to a pirate. As a result, he grows up a pirate, becoming part of a band of soft-hearted, sherry-drinking buccaneers who enjoy their work because it’s so much more honest than being respectable. Nevertheless, Frederic dreams of escaping the pirate life, a goal complicated by falling in love, his apprenticeship, a group of pirate-hunting police and a blustering major-general.
“These pirates are really quite harmless,” Makram said.
Though the show first debuted in 1879, the ludicrous whimsy of its events and the catchy tunes peppered throughout have made it into an enduring classic often portrayed and parodied in other media. Even the show’s name is a joke — it’d be like a show called “The Pirates of Lake Okoboji,” given that Penzance was a vacation destination when it was written.
The most famous song from the piece is “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” variants of which have appeared in everything from the Mass Effect games to Family Guy, Doctor Who, Scrubs and the Simpsons. Even the Minions from the Despicable Me series have done a version.
Getting the comedy classic to Worthington did not require the efforts of a major-general with knowledge on every conceivable topic except the military, but after two prior cancellations due to COVID-19, it almost seemed to.
“We are really fortunate that we were still able to bring this group all the way from New York City,” Makram said of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players.
COVID-19 and distance were only two of the logistical challenges involved in getting the show, however — it’s also the biggest production they’ve had the opportunity to present at Memorial Auditorium, with more than 60 people, including a live orchestra, two big sets and a large cast of characters including pirates, police and daughters, among others.
That posed some difficulties, as Memorial Auditorium’s dressing rooms have room for about 15 people, or about half the actors in the show. As such, some will be using the building’s board room as a dressing room. The touring company will even be taking their meals at the cafeteria at St. Mary’s, Makram said.
She encouraged everyone to come and see the show, as it’s something the public wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to see in Worthington — which is actually the first stop on the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ tour.
The show was made possible through grants and support from the city of Worthington, the Friends of the Auditorium, local sponsors and ticket sales.
Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children if purchased in advance, or $40 for adults and $20 for children at the door. To purchase them or for more information, visit friendsoftheauditorium.com, call (507) 376-9101 or stop by the auditorium box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a weekday.