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Pirates Cast


Pirates Snippets!



Frederic BYRON MILLER (the Pirate Apprentice)
Ruth DI NORTON (A Piratical Maid of all Work)
Major General Stanley PETER LAKIN
Sergeant of Police VIC CLARKE
RALPH FOGGIN (the Pirate King's Lieutenant)

General Stanley's Daughters

Pirates Chorus
Doreen Bevan, Carole Gill, Jo Hayes, Rachael Armstrong, Sandra Lakin, Zena Grady, Laura Panter, Betty Whalley, Deb Lee, Elizabeth Toft, Pat Humphreys, Alex Woods, Sonja Greenhow Tom Allen, Brian Bradbury, Fred Rowe, Al Geary, Nick Price, Martin Broomhead, Alan Stewart, Don Jones, Glenn Panter, Ian Ferguson, Mike Bevan, Peter Astill, Richard Hopwood



Director - Peter James Robinson
Musical Director - David Toft


As the curtain rises on Act 1, we discover a band of Pirates in jovial mood. They are having a party to celebrate Frederic reaching age 21. This means that he will have fulfilled his apprenticeship and intends to leave the Pirates, although before he goes, he offers some advice to his comrades. For example, he thinks they are too tender-hearted and will never attack weaker parties than themselves and thus invariably lose.

Frederic became a Pirate because Ruth his former nursery-maid is hard of hearing and apprenticed him to be a 'Pirate' rather than a 'Pilot' as instructed. She therefore joined the Pirates with Frederic but now that he is leaving wonders what is to become of her.

Ruth assures Frederic that she is beautiful and he knows no different, until he comes across a bevy of beautiful girls all of whom rather shy away at meeting a Pirate. Except one, that is…Mabel. Frederic now realises that Ruth is not so attractive.

Before Frederic can warn the girls, The Pirates appear, and capture the girls with intent to marry. It transpires that they are the daughters of Major General Stanley who then appears. He also knows the Pirates reputation for compassion, and declares that he is an orphan, so saving himself and his daughters from the hands of the Pirates.


Act 2 opens with The Major-General rather rueing that he had had to lie to get himself out of trouble. However, Frederic has organised an expedition of Police to march on the Pirates.

The Pirate King and Ruth then seek out Frederic and explain to him that he was apprenticed to the Pirates until his 21st birthday (not age 21) and as he was born on February 29th that makes a difference as he only has a birthday once every 4 years. By birthdays he is only 5!

That being the case, Frederic has to return to being a Pirate and as a reinstated member has to tell the Pirate King that Stanley is not an orphan. Mabel is devastated at this news but remains loyal to Frederic. The Police are confused but are told to still do their duty and capture the Pirates.

The Pirates and Police fight and The Pirates win. But Ruth appears with some further information which enables everyone to forgive everyone and all ends on a happy note.

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Pirates Snippets!
Unique among G & S operas, "Pirates" was premiered in New York on December 31st 1879.
Sullivan had gone to New York some 2 months earlier and found, to his horror, that he had left the band parts in London and therefore had to frantically re-write them from memory. Also at that time, the American orchestra threatened to strike because the music was too grand to be called 'operetta'. Sullivan responded by threatening to bring the orchestra of the Royal Opera House to New York and the Americans backed down.
The chorus in Act 1 "Climbing over rocky mountains" is an anomaly as there are no such mountains in Cornwall! This is explained in that the chorus was lifted from an earlier opera "Thespis" which is set in Greece and refers to Mount Olympus.
In order to protect British Copyright, a performance of The Pirates of Penzance was given in The Bijou Theatre, Paignton the day before the New York premiere. At that performance the cast wore their "HMS Pinafore" costumes and read or sang their parts from pieces of paper as there had been no proper rehearsals. No matter, copyright was preserved.
Everything goes full circle, for in 1980, The Opera was again staged in New York by Joseph Papp, with new choreography and a modified score using guitars, synthesisers and percussion in place of an orchestra, playing to sell-out houses on Broadway, where it had had its premiere over a century earlier.