Songs of the sea: ‘Pirates of Penzance’ lands in Bay Ridge

The high C’s: Cast members of “Pirates of Penzance” rehearse for the upcoming production of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera at St. Patrick’s School in Bay Ridge.
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It is, it is a glorious thing to hear a pirate sing!

A band of scurvy scalawags will sail into St. Patrick’s school in Bay Ridge this weekend for the first of six tuneful performances of “The Pirates of Penzance,” from the Narrows Community Theater. The classic comic operetta, which opens on March 2, may have lost some of its satirical punch since it premiered in 1879, but its greatly to its credit that its clever lyrics and evergreen jokes about romance will still make audiences laugh, said the actor who plays protagonist Frederic.

“A lot of it is satire — it was very topical during the time that it was written, and it’s like any sort of political farce today,” said Midwood resident Chazmond Peacock. “The lyrics are very silly. If you really listen to it, even though we’re singing operatically, you realize it’s not serious at all.”

The two-hour show follows Frederic, an extremely honorable apprentice to a band of soft-hearted pirates, who falls in love with the daughter of the infamously modern Major General Stanley. Mabel returns his affection, but Frederic must battle both her overprotective father and his loyalty to the pirate band to secure her heart forever.

The show will go on with minimal costumes and a bare stage, which puts the spotlight squarely on the songs. But Peacock said the added pressure is a privilege, since Frederic’s battle cries and love songs are well suited to his voice.

“Vocally, it’s a very fulfilling role for a tenor — there’s a lot of great rangey tenor notes, so it’s a lot of fun to sing,” he said.

A nine-piece orchestra will accompany the 25-member cast, who range in age from about 13 to 70, according to producer Marla Gotay, who lives in Dyker Heights. The big-voiced operatic style of the Gilbert and Sullivan production may surprise locals expecting a more standard musical, said Gotay.

“It’s sung differently than other kinds of musical theater — it requires a different kind of talent and gives our community members to hear a different style of singing,” she said.

And in addition to learning what an “operetta” sounds like, audiences will also contribute to a good cause: all ticket sale proceeds will benefit the Betty Kash Scholarship fund for graduating eighth-grade students, named after a late musical-loving member of the Narrows Community Theater.

“The Pirates of Penzance” presented by the Narrows Community Theater at St. Patrick’s School Auditorium (401 97th St. at Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, March 2–3 and 9–10 at 8 pm; March 4 and 11 at 2 pm. $25 ($20 seniors and students under 21; $15 kids under 12).

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:48 pm, July 9, 2018
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