There will be plenty of adventure on the high seas as the CHSS drama department presents the Pirates of Penzance  beginning tomorrow.

There will be plenty of adventure on the high seas as the CHSS drama department presents the Pirates of Penzance beginning tomorrow.

CHSS presenting a tale of love … and piracy

A young man faced with a hard decision; The woman he loves or the gang of pirates he has called family all of his life?

It’s a comic opera about a young man faced with a hard decision; The woman he loves or the gang of pirates he has called family all of his life?

This is the predicament in a new version of Gillbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, which Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) students will present three consecutive performances of later this month.

Artistic director Alison O’Toole and musical director Jeff Saunders have been working with students for the production since October. The Pirates of Penzance is a different style of musical theatre than past CHSS productions and is much more music-heavy.

“The tempos are very quick in some of the songs and the words come very fast, so it’s been a challenge for the actors,” O’Toole said, noting students have progressed wonderfully.

“From the band’s perspective, it’s quite difficult music … but the musicians have been working really hard,” said Saunders, noting a number of experienced Prince Rupert musicians are part of the pit band.

“They sound professional,” added O’Toole.

The Pirates of Penzance tells the story of Frederic (Daelan Calder) who is released from his apprenticeship to a band of pirates, including the Pirate King (Ryan Wightman) and Samual (Blake Foxall), his lieutenant.

“He is off to lead a respectable life which would involve him exterminating the pirates who have been his friends and family since he was a young boy,” said O’Toole.

With the pirate maid Ruth (Hannah Komadina) being the only woman he’s ever seen before, Frederic quickly falls in love with the daughter of Major-General Stanley (Jacob Skerritt), Mabel (Jordan Weir), after returning to civilization.

But complications arise, leaving Frederic divided between his loyalties to the pirate band and the father of his new love-interest.

“He’s faced with a difficult choice,” said Saunders.

“He is torn between the woman he loves and his obligation or duties to the pirates,” added O’Toole.

There are just under 50 students involved with the performance all together, making up the cast, crew and pit band. Additionally, CHSS textiles students helped to create some of the costumes.

While it’s usually difficult finding enough male actors for the annual musicals, this was the first time in many years where more boys auditioned for the production than girls.

“The cast is an even split … I guess pirates really brought (the boys) out,” O’Toole said.

Both O’Toole and Saunders said the amount of student-to-student learning that has occurred during preparations has been remarkable, with the older students helping younger ones grow as performers, musicians and stage hands.

“I love (the musical theatre) program because it is a mentoring program … they all learn from each other,” said O’Toole.

CHSS will present The Pirates of Penzance at the Lester Centre of the Arts on Thursday, Jan. 22 and Friday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m., and a 2 p.m.-matinee showing on Saturday, Jan. 24.

Advance tickets are available at Cook’s Jewelers and the Lester Centre box office.