Local Spotlight: The Pirates of Penzance - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local Spotlight: The Pirates of Penzance

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PCPA production of "The Pirates of Penzance." (KSBY) PCPA production of "The Pirates of Penzance." (KSBY)

"The Pirates of Penzance" have come ashore in Santa Maria.

The Tony Award-winning Gilbert and Sullivan musical first debuted in 1879 with its cast of sentimental pirates, silly policemen, dim-witted lovers, and other eccentric oddballs. Since then, it's been a favorite of audiences around the world.

But players say this PCPA production has its own unique twists.

"Before there was Monty Python, there was Gilbert and Sullivan, and these guys are really funny," explained Alex Stewart, who plays "Frederic" in the show. "A lot of the comedy in this show is actually in the writing. I mean, 'Pirates of Penzance' is a joke in and of itself. Penzance is actually a really, really nice part of England. It's not somewhere that you would ever have pirates."

Frederic is 21 and just recently released from years of apprenticeship as a pirate. He's never seen a woman before and is thunderstruck upon meeting "Mabel," played by Natalie Graham.

"We fall in love, and then in the second act, he tells me that he has to leave because he was born on leap year and so he's no longer finished with his apprenticeship," explained Graham. "So it's this big drama on me having to wait for him and deciding, yes, I will wait that long for him to come back."

"The year 1940," said Stewart. "Yeah, I believe I will be in my 80s by that time."

The PCPA production is a big, brightly colored comedy with fantastic costumes and actors willing to paint in broad strokes.

"There's a lot of physical comedy, of course, but I think that what's different about our version, it sort of lives on this edge of ... 'was that supposed to happen?'" said Graham.

Then, of course, there's the score -- a musical that also embraces operatic fireworks.

"I love this music," said Graham. "It's so... I don't know if it's because I grew up singing classical, but it's just so fulfilling."

"The Pirates of Penzance" runs through March 6 at the Marian Theatre on the Allan Hancock College campus in Santa Maria. For tickets and more information, visit pcpa.org.

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