The Bradley University Theatre Department started off its season with pirates, generals, policemen and a special guest appearance by University President Joanne Glasser in the comic opera “The Pirates of Penzance.”
“Pirates” focuses on the indebted Frederick played by junior theatre performance major Drew Overcash. Frederick must fulfill his duties as a pirate before he can be free to live his life based on his own moral code.
He reaches the end of his obligation on his 21st birthday and leaves his band of pirates. He meets Mabel, played by junior retail merchandising major Candice Battles, who is a daughter of Maj. Gen. Stanley, played by alumnus Lee Wenger. Frederick and Mabel fall in love.
Meanwhile, the pirates, led by the Pirate King (junior advertising major Marlon Washington), plan to take Stanley’s other daughters for themselves. Stanley gets to keep his daughters when he lies about being an orphan to play on the heart strings of the pirates, who are also orphans.
Just when it looks like Frederick and Stanley have escaped their pirate-related problems, it’s revealed by the Pirate King and Ruth, played by senior music major Annie Sheehan, that Frederick was born on a leap year and therefore has only had five birthdays – the contract specifies that he is free on his 21st.
Frederick remains true to his agreement and rejoins the pirates to seek revenge on Stanley after Frederick reveals their leader is not in fact an orphan.
Once the tables have turned, it looks as if the pirates will get their revenge until an appearance by The Queen of England, portrayed by Glasser, who persuades the Pirate King to withhold his judgment.
The pirates, Stanley, Mabel and the other daughters end up in a full ensemble of happy characters to end the show.
“Pirates” was a high-energy performance by a talented cast.
“I thought it was creative and something different,” junior accounting major Eric Miller said. “I liked the fact that they involved an alumni and that President Glasser had a role.”
One of the standout performers was Wenger, who successfully tackled a number of hard singing parts including the sprawling “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”
The always-entertaining Washington was hilarious in his depiction of the Pirate King.
“We have a lot of talented vocalists and their choreography was really good,” freshman AEP major Tricia Anklan said.
There were no weak points in the songs and the show flowed very well from beginning to end.
The set was especially impressive. Scenery, lighting and costume changes all added to the versatility of the performance. At one point, a rope descended from the rafters allowing performers to swing into the crowd and back onto the stage.
“Pirates” was a great way to start off the season with a strong show full of surprises and special appearances. It was fun, engaging and a great sign the Theatre Department is ready to do bigger and better things.