Utopia Opera Will Present Gilbert & Sullivan's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE in New York City
On Saturday, November 23 at 3pm and 7:30pm and on Sunday, November 24 at 3pm, Utopia Opera opens its 9th season with W.S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan's perennially popular comic opera, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, in a fully-staged production performed with chamber orchestra at the Ida K. Lang Recital Hall at Hunter College (695 Park Avenue). John Cuk conducts and Utopia founder and artistic director William Remmers stage directs. Following this will be a tour of private and public venues including an additional public performance in the Poconos on December 7, when Utopia Opera are the weekend's guest entertainment for the Skytop Lodge in Skytop, PA.
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE had its official premiere at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC (formerly at 28th and Broadway) on December 31st, 1879. This connection with New York City has stuck (unsurprisingly, as Gilbert & Sullivan aimed to give the New Yorkers a show in a more "pronounced" style) and it remains the only G&S work to have had a massive Broadway revival in recent memory, by way of Joseph Papp's Public Theater musically stylized but textually faithful production. Since then, PIRATES has remained the most performed G&S show in the US, both in its original orchestration (as Utopia will be performing it) and in the Papp edition. With a catchy title and theme, effortlessly memorable characters, satire within the grasp of a non-UK audience, and a bevy of tunes that rank among the duo's most popular including the soprano's Bel Canto stunner "Poor wandering one," the rousing piratical anthem "With Cat-like tread," and the most popular (and parodied) of all of their devilishly tongue-twisty patter songs, "I am the very model of a modern Major-General."
Utopia founder and the show's director, William Remmers, states, "This was the first of their shows I ever heard, ever fell in love with, and was ever in and I've done five productions of it over the years in different capacities. However, we've never done it at Utopia. We've concentrated on their more difficult pieces, working through the challenges of presenting their lesser-known or more esoteric works as a boutique company. With all of that experience behind us, we felt equipped and ready to handle a show towards which there is both much goodwill and much expectation. We put it to our audience, as we do every year, and it ran away with the vote. To quote another G&S show, it was if they were saying, 'It's expected of you!'" PIRATES will mark Utopia's 9th G&S production in as many years (not counting many concerts, an S-without-G production, and the US premiere of Sullivan's oratorio on which Gilbert collaborated, THE MARTYR OF ANTIOCH. Remmers continues, "I don't think any of our rehearsal processes have been as thrilling as this one. After performing in the UK with productions of THE GRAND DUKE with Forbear! Theatre (performed with eight people) and Illyria Theatre's THE MIKADO (for a group of just six), I felt inspired and encouraged to try a relatively boutique approach to the show, achieving all of the necessary parts and components with just 12 actors, equipping us with a lean, mean cast for our upcoming tour dates for the show. Sullivan's briskly zipping score and Gilbert's uproarious and economical approach to dialogue and lyrics are jiving hand-and-hand with this particularly madcap approach and we can assure fans that they will be getting the material they know and love along with a few feats of reckless ingenuity in order to make the whole wonderful thing come together. And for newcomers to the show? We want to see you there most of all."
The production's cast features Daniel Kamalic as the pirate apprentice, Frederic, Kathleen Norchi as the heroic ingenue, Mabel, Erik Contzius as The Pirate King, Juan José López Delgado as Samuel, Trey Sandusky as the Sergeant of Police, Amy Maude Helfer as Ruth, Kayla Faccilongo, Leslie Ratner, Shannon Gaffney, and Jane Hoffman as Mabel's sisters (among other roles), Martha Cohen Stine in a special guest appearance, and William Remmers, reprising his role from the 2015 International G&S Festival as Major-General Stanley.
Tickets ($20 for general admission) are available online (with card) and at the door (card/check/cash). Tickets are available online at: https://penzance.brownpapertickets.com/