Skylight Music Theatre
Press Release

Skylight Music Theatre Presents Gilbert & Sullivan’s Swashbuckling Comedy Pirates of Penzance

Performances May 20 - June 12, 2016 in the beautiful Cabot Theatre

By - Apr 21st, 2016 10:36 am

Milwaukee, Wis. (April 21, 2016) – Skylight Music Theatre presents the Gilbert & Sullivan favorite, The Pirates of Penzance from Friday, May 20 through Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Written by librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, Pirates of Penzance is a comic operetta set in 19th century England featuring tender-hearted pirates, bumbling policemen, dim-witted young lovers and an eccentric modern Major-General.

The buoyant story follows the adventures of Frederic, who was mistakenly apprenticed to a band of sentimental pirates until he turns 21. After falling in love with Mabel, the Major-General’s daughter, he tries to leave the pirate life. However Frederic was born on leap year, and with a birthday only once every four years, he won’t turn 21 for another 63 years.

Pirates of Penzance is Skylight’s final show of the 2015-16 Season celebrating women. Each production has been directed by a woman, who has helped shed light on the women’s journeys within each show.

Shawna Lucey will make her Skylight debut as director of Pirates. Lucey has worked with the Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Bread & Puppet Theater and the Bolshoi Theater, among others.

“My goal is to first honor this classic comedy that leaves you in stitches,” said Lucey, who is based in New York City. But unlike other Pirates productions in which, she said, “the women are often dismissed as silly girls,” Lucey said that Gilbert & Sullivan’s text and music show “these women know exactly what they are doing and have figured out how to get what they want.”

Lucey said that the sub-title of Pirates, which is“Slave of Duty,” has inspired her staging.

“The men in Pirates are slaves to duty. They are so absolutely literal that it binds them to ridiculous aspects of their station and therefore to their fates,” said Lucey. “The strength of the women is their clever ability to wiggle around duty and not become enslaved by it in order to create a happy life for themselves.”

Music director for Pirates is Robert Linder, who has spent 50 years conducting the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan with such companies as the Houston Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Cleveland Opera and the International Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Festival in Buxton, England. At Skylight, Linder conducted Les Misérables in 2013.

Also returning to Skylight is Andrew Varela, who will play the Pirate King. Varela, who appeared on Broadway as Valjean in Les Misérables and has performed at the Roundabout Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, Houston Grand Opera and others, appeared at Skylight Music Theatre in Wizard of Oz (2014) as the Lion and Les Misérables (2013) as Javert.

This production of The Pirates of Penzance will mark the ninth time that Skylight has presented this upbeat and energetic Gilbert & Sullivan favorite; the last time was 2009.

“Skylight has a long and treasured history of performing Gilbert and Sullivan,” said Viswa Subbaraman, artistic director at Skylight Music Theatre. “We are proud to bring Pirates back to our stage as only the Skylight can.”

Pirates of Penzance, which originally premiered in New York in 1879, has proven irresistible to audiences around the world. A century later, in 1981, Pirates had a successful Broadway run starring Kevin Kline, and was made into a 1983 movie starring Kline, Angela Lansbury and Linda Ronstadt.

One of the best known songs from Pirates is the tongue-twister, “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.” It has been used and parodied in The Muppet Show, The West Wing, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frasier, The Simpsons, and many others.

The lyrics include:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

The Pirates of Penzance production team and cast:

Production Team
Stage Director ………………………………………… Shawna Lucey
Music Director ………………………………………… Robert Linder
Assistant Music Director …………………….. Anne Van Deusen
Choreographer (Dance) ………………………. Ryan Cappleman
Choreographer (Fights) …………………………. Christopher Elst
Lighting Designer ……………………………………. Kurt Schnabel
Scenic Designer ………………………………….. Peter Dean Beck
Costume Designer …………………………………….. Shima Orans
Stage Manager ………………………………………. Dustin Z. West

Cast
Mabel………………………………………. Julie Tabash Kelsheimer
Ruth…………………………………………………………… Diane Lane
Edith…………………………………………………. Susan Wiedmeyer
Kate……………………………………………….. Samantha Sostarich
Isabel……………………………………………………. Kaylee Annable
Pirate King…………………………………………….. Andrew Varela
Frederic…………………………………………………… Ben Robinson
Major General…………………………………………….. Drew Brhel
Samuel………………………………………….. Nathan Wesselowski
Sergeant of Police………………………….. Martin Lowen Poock

Ensemble
Cleary Breunig, Ryan Charles, Christopher Elst, Kaleigh Rae Gamaché, Kathryn Hausman, Sean Jackson, Stephanie Staszak, Brett Sweeney, Tim Rebers, Rick Richter

Dance Captain
Stephanie Staszak

Understudy
Kaleigh Rae Gamaché (Mabel), Tim Rebers (Pirate King)

Performance Information

Performances of The Pirates of Penzance are Friday, May 20 through Sunday, June 12 in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

Pirates of Penzance is suitable for audiences ages 6 and up.

Special Events


Skylight Insights.
In-depth discussions with directors and special guests take place one hour before every Wednesday and Sunday performance.

Skylight BeOut.
On Thursday, May 26, there will be a pre-show celebration before the performance for LGBTQ members and supporters.

Date Night
. On Wednesday, June 1, in collaboration with a nearby restaurant, guests will enjoy dinner plus tickets to the show.

For more information
visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org, email info@skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office at (414) 291-7800.

Tickets & Box Office

Tickets are $25 – $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office or by calling (414) 291-7800, Monday – Saturday, from noon – 6 p.m., and two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.

Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. Ticket discounts for students, seniors and on same-day “Rush” (30 minutes or less before curtain) are available. Call the Box Office (414) 291-7800 or email info@skylightmusictheatre.org

About Skylight Music Theatre

Skylight Music Theatre’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions “Skylight Style” – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.

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