This season marked Young Vic's 45th consecutive year performing the works of Gilbert & Sullivan. And our production of The Pirates of Penzance was an unqualified success. The show is always a big draw for audiences, and they were not disappointed. A particular favorite was the second act performance of "With Cat-Like Tread, Upon Our Prey We Steal" led by Jeffrey Williams as The Pirate King.
When Frederic was a lad, his nurse (Ruth) was told to apprentice him to a pilot, but she mistakenly apprenticed him to pirates. Although Frederic loathed the trade, he dutifully served.
As the curtain rises, his contract is almost done and he prepares to leave and devote himself to the elimination of piracy. He asks the pirates to join him in a lawful calling, but they refuse. Ruth, wishes to become Frederic’s wife, but having seen few women, he is unsure whether she is as pretty as she says.
Just then a group of girls, Major-General Stanley’s daughters, come upon the scene. Frederic sees their beauty and renounces Ruth. Of the girls, Mabel takes an interest in Frederic, and he in her. The other girls are seized by the pirates and threatened with immediate marriage.
When the Major-General arrives, he cons the pirates by saying he is an orphan, working on their well-known sympathies and thus released. However, in the ensuing days, this lie troubles the Major-General. He broods over it at night while somewhat consoled by Frederic’s plan to lead a band of police against the pirates.
Meanwhile, the Pirate King and Ruth have discovered “a paradox.” Frederic’s apprenticeship runs until his twenty-first birthday, but he was born on February 29 (leap day), so in reality, he has only had five birthdays.
Obeying his sense of duty, Frederic rejoins the pirates and must tell them of the Major-General’s deception. Just as the pirates seize the Major-General, the police come to the rescue and order the pirates to yield, “in Queen Victoria’s name.” As they relent, Ruth proceeds to explain that these men who appear to be lawless pirates are really “noblemen who have gone wrong,” thus they are pardoned and permitted to marry Major-General Stanley’s daughters.
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The Young Victorian Theatre Company is funded by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.