Springfield Symphony to set sail with ‘The Pirates of Penzance’

Reagan Stohler, left, Thereza Lituma and Stephanie Chiodras will travel from the University of Illinois to perform here as part of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's presentation of "The Pirates of Penzance" on Saturday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Contributed photo
Caption
Reagan Stohler, left, Thereza Lituma and Stephanie Chiodras will travel from the University of Illinois to perform here as part of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's presentation of "The Pirates of Penzance" on Saturday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Contributed photo

Ahoy, pirates are set to invade Springfield. They won’t be landing on Buck Creek or Mad River, but the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

That’s where the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will hoist up the sails and instruments for a semi-staged version of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic comic opera “The Pirates of Penzance” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The show is appropriate for all audiences.

SSO music director and conductor Peter Stafford Wilson likes to step out of the typical concert realm occasionally and this was a chance to sail in that direction.

“We have had numerous requests to reprise the concept of a semi-staged opera that we explored with ‘Carmen’ a few seasons ago. ‘Pirates’ seems like a wonderful vehicle as it combines the tuneful melodies and fascinating text of the masters, Gilbert and Sullivan,” he said. “They create a very unique experience that is as fun to create as it is to consume.”

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The opportunity allows Wilson to reconnect with colleagues at The Ohio Light Opera, where he was once music director and became acquainted with exciting young singers.

Dawn Harris, a veteran of operettas since age 17, has worked with the group and staged several productions of “Pirates” and looks forward to coming to Springfield as a triple threat – director, choreographer and actress.

“Ohio is my place; I grew up here,” said Harris, a faculty member at the University of Illinois. “This is going to be so much fun. It’s the most popular Gilbert and Sullivan show and the audience can hum along with some of the songs they may recognize.”

Being semi-staged means the orchestra and chorus will be on the stage along with the singers and performers, many of whom are from Ohio including former Columbus news anchorman Cabot Rea, who will play the Pirate King, a part he did more than 40 years ago.

The big difference is there is no set, but costumes and props will play in and it will be staged almost in full, the complete comic opera with no cuts to the source material. The SSO chorale will add support as the chorus led by Basil Fett.

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Harris said not to expect plain standing and singing but sword fights, parasols and other action in between. The audience may even recognize songs including its most famous, “Major-General’s Song,” which has been featured in commercials and parodied for years.

She also said the popularity of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series has renewed interest in pirates and this show can be relatable to everyone. Harris suggested if attendees or kids wanted to get in the spirit they can even wear pirate costumes or gear to the show.

“This music and the experience are so much fun. We hope everyone will set sail with us,” she said.

HOW TO GO

What: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, “The Pirates of Penzance”

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Admission: $44.40-$60

More info: 937-325-8100 or go to www.springfieldsym.org/

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