By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – High school thespians will take to the stage next week for what may be Morinville Community High School’s most ambitious production yet. This year’s student play is Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic Pirates of Penzance, an operetta that has been performed continuously since it emerged on the stages of New York in 1879.
MCHS teacher Vanessa King said the play is a big show and a theatrical classic people will enjoy. “It was a hit back then immediately, and it’s just as big now, although for some reason most people haven’t heard of it, she said.
Pirates combines the theatrical and technical talents of 34 cast and eight crew members who have been working since September to put the show together for four nights of performances Dec. 6 to 9. Auditions were held in late September and the cast have been rehearsing every day after school ever since. Additionally, there have been some weekend rehearsals that run several hours in length. The dedication of the student cast and assistance of MCHS alumni like Rebecca Turnbul who has pitched in as vocal coach have allowed the play to be polished to the standard local audiences have come to expect from MCHS theatre productions. That performance, running nightly Tuesday through Friday, is two hours in length.
“These kids have been working so hard on such an amazing production, and it’s fantastic,” King said. “We have so much fun every rehearsal. I think the audience is just going to dig it this year.”
King said she is impressed with the talent assembled for the production, many of whom are graduating this school year. “I thought if we were going to do Pirates of Penzance, which is an operetta, then we better do it when we have such a strong core of actors,” King said. “These kids have been in all the productions since they got here in Grade 9.”
Familiar MCHS theatre faces include Rory Turner as the pirate king, Brendan Fitzgerald in the romantic lead, and Moira Kelly in the role of Mabel, the female lead in the operetta.
But while much work has gone into learning the lines, songs and dance moves, an impressive amount of work has also gone into constructing the set. Although the set was designed in September, actual construction began in mid-October. The set includes a two-story building complete with fire escape, a flower shop, a chocolate factory and a full-size castle. Additionally, there is a pirate ship, cliff side port, and a number of fly in backdrops, the latter of which were painted by art students and recreated by the school’s graphics department.
The operetta runs Tuesday to Thursday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at MCHS and Sobeys at a cost of $8 each.