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Pirates of Penzance brings humor and narrative to Rodeheaver’s stage

Bob Jones University recently set sail on the high seas with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ performance of the musical The Pirates of Penzance. 

As the first artist series of the semester, the NYGSP brought humor, theatrics and musical excellence to their performance.  According to Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, this was the second time the players had performed The Pirates of Penzance at BJU. They have also performed Mikado twice at BJU. 

“I met David Wannen, [NYGSP’s] executive director, at the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals in New York City,” Lawson said. “We became friends and have kept in touch since their first visit to BJU.”

Lawson was excited that the students got to experience a professional company perform The Pirates of Penzance. “[NYGSP] has been a hit each time they visit BJU,” Lawson said.

Lawson said The Pirates of Penzance is one of the best-known and most loved of the Gilbert & Sullivan musicals. “I [wanted] our students to be introduced to this fun operetta with its hilarious plot,” Lawson said. 

The Pirates of Penzance told the story of Frederic, a young man who indentured himself as a pirate apprentice, only to realize he was supposed to be apprenticed to a pilot instead. Misunderstandings, a group of tenderhearted pirates and an island of beautiful women only complicated his hilarious situation. 

Lawson said he hoped students came away understanding the importance of getting details right, as not doing so  is what sparked Frederic’s misfortunes in the beginning of the musical. 

NYGSP is in its 45th year of operation. Its mission is to give vitality to the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan through performance and education. They have performed over 2,000 Gilbert & Sullivan musicals in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. 

NYGSP tours with a full chorus and orchestra, a crew of 50 to 80 people. Their founder, artistic director and general manager is Albert Bergeret, a professional specialist in the works of Gilbert & Sullivan for over 40 years. 

William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan are known as the most popular musical theatre team of the Victorian era. They worked together on 14 comic operas, 13 of which the NYGSP have performed in their history.