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The very model of fun on the high seas

The story of swashbuckling pirates, attempted kidnapping, love and sword fighting will grace the stage in St. Jacobs next week when the curtains go up for Drayton Entertainment’s production of The Pirates of Penzance.

Opening night is Oct. 7 and the show’s director, theatre veteran and artistic director of Drayton Entertainment Alex Mustakas, says the plot is full of comedic characters, bad math and love.

“It is really about a young man, Frederic, who has come of age,” he said. “His nursemaid made a mistake and thought she was apprenticing him to a navy pilot, but she heard pirate. We start the show on his 21st birthday, and as much as he enjoyed it, he is out of his indentures and now has to lead a blameless life evermore. He is going to leave the pirates until they discover he was born on a leap year, so he is actually only five and a quarter (years old). There is the love story and zany policemen.”

He says the operatic comedy is timeless and even after over 130 years on stages around the world, the plot and music still entertain.

“As much as some of the references are old, it is still a lot of fun and we have made it a really rollicking, fun pirate musical,” he said, adding that Gilbert and Sullivan really knew how to collaborate and create a vibrant show. “There is a lot of comedy and you know, just add some zany pirates and policemen and damsels in distress. It is dynamic. (Gilbert and Sullivan) are the fathers of modern-day musical theatre. You had such an amazing composer and such a great writer.”

This run of The Pirates of Penzance marks the 25th year in business for Drayton Entertainment and the 40th anniversary of the Waterloo Regional Gilbert and Sullivan Society, where Mustakas got his start on the stage. To honour the major milestones, he has gathered his ideal cast of experienced and talented actors.

“These are the cream of the crop of a lot of artists that have worked with Drayton Entertainment before,” he said. “It is an anniversary year, so I’ve brought together some of the best talent we have ever had for this show.”

Some of that talent includes veterans of both stage and screen, including David Talbot as the model Major-General Stanley, Jamie McKnight as main character Frederic, and up and coming Canadian Soprano Suzanne Rigden in the role of Frederic’s love interest and Major-General Stanley’s daughter, Mabel.

Opening night is coming up quickly for the cast and crew, with only two and a half weeks of rehearsals before the audience files into the theatre for an evening of entertainment. However, even with such a tight timeline, Mustakas says the cast knows what they are doing.

“We are in great shape,” he said, mentioning that the show’s choreography is a big part of their work. “We are having fun and we are learning all of our choreography – there are a lot of fight sequences and fencing and all that. There is a lot of choreography. They are all pros though. They know their stuff.”

Mustakas didn’t put this production together alone. Joining him backstage are choreographer and assistant director David Connolly and music director Steve Thomas.

For tickets to see The Pirates of Penzance this month, visit www.stjacobscountryplayhouse.com or call the box office at 519-747-7788.

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