The Pirates of Penzance
Directed by Heather E. Hamilton
Musical Direction by Nick Wayne
Scene Design by John David Paul
Costume Design by David McCarl
Lighting Design by Jamie-Brooke Ruggio
Sound Design by Jaeden Wellner
Pirates dance with the Major-General's daughters.
The Major-General (Michael Turner) with his
daughters, unaware of the pirates' presence.
The Pirates bring their king (Ben Stasny) into the scene.
The Major-General's daughters make quite an appearance.
Ruth (Christina Dyrland Smith) sings as Frederic (Gabriel Sell)
looks on, from a distance.
The Police, led by the Sergeant (Jake Sullivan) don't lend an air of security to the situation.
Everyone, including Musical Director Nick Wayne, gets into it with the Pirate King (Ben Stasny).
Ruth (Christina Dyrland Smith) spends some quality time with the pirates.
Ruth (Christina Dyrland Smith), the Pirate King (Ben Stasny)
and Frederic (Gabriel Sell) join forces.
Heather E. Hamilton has been hanging out with a fun-loving bunch of creative pirates and chorus of daughters for a
few weeks now, and she’s just about ready to show off what they’ve come up with together.
Hamilton is the director of The Pirates of Penzance, the season-closing musical at the Minnesota State Mankato
Department of Theatre & Dance, which runs at 7:30 p.m. April 9-11 and 16-18, plus 2:00 p.m. April 18 and 19 in the
Ted Paul Theatre of the Earley Center for Performing Arts. It is sponsored by Community Bank Mankato,
Jones and Magnus Attorneys at Law and Tailwind Group.
“I just have an amazing cast, so I lucked out with the cast,” she says. “They’re phenomenal!” And there are a
LOT of them—41 in total. Plus another guy who joins them occasionally on stage, but Hamilton is being mum about that.
She has been in the production a couple of times herself—once in the chorus and once as “Mabel”—but this time she’s
letting the cast create much of fun the audience will see on stage. She’s more an editor and sculptor than a director in this one.
Although The Pirates of Penzance debuted 135 years ago, Hamilton has turned to the Joseph Papp version
of 1980s for her inspiration. That production became a movie starring Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt and included more
of the fun and merriment Hamilton felt would help lighten the end of this Mainstage season.
“It just takes all of the humor that Gilbert and Sullivan originally had in the play and turns it up a notch so that it’s
20th century-sized instead of Victorian-sized,” she says. “The humor is already there. The Pirate King is already this
uber dumb, filled-with-machismo guy. Joe Papp just upped the ante a bit and made it larger than life.”
In the Minnesota State production, the ante is upped even more by Ben Stasny, the senior BFA Musical Theatre
candidate filling the role. He has experience in this type of role, having played “Thenardier” in Les Misérables,
“Lumiere” in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and “Aldolpho” in The Drowsy Chaperone, among characters.
But in this production he has co-conspirators.
“This has been a tsunami of creativity and jokes that I’ve tried to push and mold and poke, and keep in a framework,” is
how Hamilton describes it. “You know, I crack myself up. I think I’m pretty funny. But there’s no way I could be
as funny as 42 actors all playing together.”
This production will be family-friendly, with just a couple of more adult moments. But Hamilton likens it to the animated
movies of recent years and to Monty Python, where those never over-shadow the goofy fun that is at the story’s core. “It’s just
a teeming hive of people and swords and parasols and screaming. It’s really exciting and fun. And goofy.”
Here is what Music Theatre International says about the story of The Pirates of Penzance: “Gilbert and Sullivan's
hilarious, hopeful farce follows young Frederic, an orphan who has mistakenly been apprenticed to an ineffectual but
raucous band of pirates. He disavows the pirates’ way of life and falls for the beautiful Mabel. Frederic's melodious tones win
over the heart of Major General Stanley's songbird daughter, Mabel, but when the Pirate King discovers General Stanley
has lied about being an orphan to keep the pirates from stealing all of his belongings and carrying off his
bevy of beautiful daughters, an ‘ingenious paradox’ may prevent the budding romance and lead
to the death of ‘The very model of a modern Major-General.’”
Smitten with love are Frederic (Gabriel Sell) and Mabel (Emily Scinto).
Ruth (Christina Dyrland Smith) and the Pirate King (Ben Stasny) sneak up on Frederic (Gabriel Sell).
Photos and story by Mike Lagerquist