Despite featuring a pirate crew, don’t expect fighting in Kamiakin High School’s The Pirates of Penzance.
Dancing and sword waving, yes. But fighting, no.
That’s because the pirates featured in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ridiculous musical are far too tenderhearted to fight orphans or anyone they see as weaker than themselves, said Chris Hamilton, Kamiakin’s drama director.
And the policemen are just a bit too inept to fight the pirates, since they are too busy falling over themselves.
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“What would have been an epic fight became their failure, and we win,” said senior Tanner Larson, 18, who plays Frederic.
Frederic, an apprentice to a gang of pirates, decides that his task upon being released from his indenture will be to exterminate all pirates. He falls in love with Mabel, one of the Major General’s daughters.
After that, hilarity and chaos ensue.
“It’s a really funny, silly play,” said junior Blake Britten, 17, who plays Mabel. “And there has definitely been that mood.”
The cast of 21 all had their lines memorized before rehearsals began, to make best use of the limited rehearsal time, they said.
For Tanner and Blake, it’s the first time they’ve starred in a musical.
Tanner sings as a soloist, has made at-home movies and has been in Hamilton’s drama class. He participated in one-act plays, but The Pirates of Penzance is his first full-stage production.
“I’m really excited to do the show,” Tanner said. “I don’t have much stage fright.”
Blake has been in a number of plays, and recently starred as Kit Tyler in Kamiakin’s fall production of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. She has experience singing as part of the school’s Scarlet & Gold Chamber Choir, but said being a soloist is a different challenge.
Putting on The Pirates of Penzance was a chance to introduce a classic to Kamiakin students, Hamilton said. Many of the cast weren’t familiar with the musical, which has historical and musical appeal.
“It’s just really funny and fun for the kids,” Hamilton said.
Tanner especially enjoys With cat-like tread, a goofy and fun song where the pirates explain how they creep up on their prey. “The choreography is amazing,” he said.
Twenty-one orchestra students are helping bring the music to life. Band director Keith Russell and choral director Scott Wagnon also have helped make the production a reality.
Tanner advises paying close attention to what is said, since the language is very proper, and “the whole musical is a play on words,” Blake added.
Expect to hear plenty of stereotypical British oxymorons, and don’t worry about not understanding all of them. For example, in one line, the pirate king calls Frederic, “a keener hand at scuttling a Cunarder or cutting out a White Star never shipped a handspike.”
That means he’s skilled at sinking a passenger ship belonging to the Cunard line and separating a White Star line passenger ship from others to capture it. To ship a handspike is to put a handspike in position to lever up an anchor or a heavy chain.
Just remember, “It’s not meant to be taken seriously,” Blake said.
The Pirates of Penzance is at 7 p.m. May 15, 1 p.m. May 16 and at 7 p.m. May 22-23 at Kamiakin High School’s auditorium, 600 N. Arthur St., in Kennewick. Tickets are available from the box office on the day of the show, and cost $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.