Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer fun with "Pirates of Penzance"!

This summer, the Greenlake Bathhouse is booming with fresh action, energy, and passion. Fifteen young students and campers are plunging into a brave, new, theatrical land: Gilbert and Sullivan. The bizarre, hilarious humor loosens up the kids and the catchy music leaves them singing the tunes all day long! As a voice student at DePaul University who recently performed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, I can speak from experience that singing in a G & S production is some of the most stimulating fun you can have on stage!

Gilbert and Sullivan are best-known for shows such as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, The Gondoliers, Ruddigore (recently performed at the Rep’s Bagley Wright theater by Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan), and others. But Seattle Opera and Seattle Public Theatre’s summer opera camp chose The Pirates of Penzance, a story of pirates, deceit, police, love, generals, power, and doughy daughters. The Pirates of Penzance is the perfect opera for young, excited performers in the making.

On the first day, Director Kelly Kitchens began with some “get to know you” exercises focusing all our energy into acting. One of her magical gifts is her ability to treat every cast member like a seasoned theater professional, regardless of age or experience, while still keeping a fun, focused environment. I find myself learning loads from her, too! The kids absolutely love her; many join us in camp after camp throughout the year.

Later that day, our Musical Director Barbara Jamison helped the kids find their voices through lip trilling, stratospheric “Oh’s” and “Ah’s,” and recitative exercises. She puts all the campers on an equal footing and expects a good effort from everyone, recognizing right away each person’s strengths and talents. She brings great musical knowledge, and knows the repertoire and how to bring out the humor.

The beauty of The Pirates of Penzance is the huge chorus and number of roles. Both directors do a great job of keeping everyone involved at all times, with a handful of solo moments. However, everyone is learning every note.

Staging is underway, and as the cast dive into the sea of Penzance, the stage and music directors constantly remind them that they are in a “safe zone,” which is Kelly’s way of saying that the stage is a safe place to try new things in the rehearsal process, and taking risks is the foundation of their growth as performers.

This is the 4th collaboration between the Seattle Opera and Seattle Public Theatre, and with the trust building and music flowing, the kids are having a blast. You can attend the performance on Friday August 12 at 7 p.m., Saturday the 13th at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m., and Sunday the 14th at 2 p.m. at the Greenlake Bathhouse. Admission is free. Please check back for another update soon!

By Alexa Jarvis, Education Intern


  1. Thanks, VERY much, Alexa and Seattle Opera for this info; I never knew about this part of Seattle Opera's contribution to the community!!! Nowhere else in Seattle Opera's publicity have I found any mention of it -- a possible failing by the SeaOp publicity people; now, I look forward to seeing "Pirates"-in-the-park (lake) before I return to Germany on 10 August!!
    Win H.

  2. Hallo, again, SeaOp bloggers; I just realize I can't see "Pirates", as performances won't take place before I return to Germany; maybe I'll try to sneak in/by a rehearsal, since Green Lake is a publich park.
    Toi, toi, toi to the "Pirates" people!!!
    Win H.

  3. It's on my dance card for tomorrow night. Can't wait!