Uproarious: Auditions for Pirates of Penzance take place at the Bermuda School of Music from May 30 to June 1. The show is due to be performed at City Hall in October.  *Image supplied
Uproarious: Auditions for Pirates of Penzance take place at the Bermuda School of Music from May 30 to June 1. The show is due to be performed at City Hall in October. *Image supplied

Gilbert and Sullivan’s production of Pirates of Penzance promises to ditch its operatic origins for a zany, fun, action-packed alternative.

Auditions have been called for May 30 to June 1 and organizers want to make it clear that you do not have to be an opera singer to audition — musical director has brought the score down for the performers and made this classic piece more accessible to a wider audience.

Pirates of Penzance is the first G&S production that the Bermuda company has presented since 1996. Set on the golden coast of Cornwall, England, it tells the story of a boy who is inadvertently apprenticed to a band of pirates, led by the Pirate King.

The production brings to the island director and choreographer Andrew Lynford, the musical director Philip Shute and set designer design by Cleo Pettitt.

The Bermuda Sun’s Sarah Lagan spoke to producer Deborah Smith-Joell about the audition process. 

How is this version of Pirates of Penzance going to be different from the original?

This production is not going to be a typical operetta or opera — it is a musical comedy. The original is an operetta. Those auditioning don’t have to hit the high notes and from the audience perspective they will be able to understand the words. We are going to take the score down to the singers level — we have a great musical director in Philip Shute. 

The director (Lynford) wants to take it almost to a panto level — it is going to be funny. It’s going to be slapstick. You’ve got the cops and the pirates. There was one performance in Australia and the Pirate King is bolting across the stage with his shirt open and swingin into the audience. You are laughing at everything. 

Who can audition for this show?

You don’t have to have done a G&S show before — we are looking at 16 years and over — the pirates want to marry all the daughters so they can’t be too young! They can come from the high school drama departments — you may not even have been in a major show. 

Describe some of the main roles that are available.

There is Fredrick who is the main love interest and Mable who is the daughter of the Major Sergeant General and he has eight other daughters. Three have speaking roles and the others are in the ensemble singing and dancing. 

You have the pirates and you have Stuart who is the Pirate King’s right hand man and then, of course, you have the Pirate King who is the star, if you will. Fredrick is there because he is trying to get out of being a pirate and Ruth is his nanny, but the Pirate King — he is your Jack Sparrow — it’s got to be a special person to get the role. Then you have got the police and Simon the police chief. They come in in the second half and then you have the daughters. It is a condensed cast of 26 but we are looking to cast it so it is over the top. 

Describe the audition process.

There will be the initial auditions from May 30 to June 1 where they can perform any song. 

Then there will be the call back auditions where there will be an advance copy of the songs to choose from. It is not a cold reading. There is also lots of dancing in the show. (See info box for details). 

Why should we look forward to this production?

It is not boring at all — even the original one wasn’t — but this one is more like a romp in the sand dunes a la Pirates of the Caribbean. There may be a song — they will stop the song in the middle and go out and talk to the audience — and then continue the song. There is not a lot of script outside the music. The way it has been fashioned it is phenomenal. The director had an idea of what I wanted as producer along with the committee. We will go over everything before auditions. It’s a great comedy and a love story.