The Pirates of Penzance

Show dates: April 1987


The pirates offer a toast to Frederic who is celebrating his 21st birthday and the end of his apprenticeship. Ruth, a maid who also works with the pirates, explains that when Frederic was younger, she was instructed by his father to have the small boy apprenticed to a pilot, but she misheard and instead took Frederic to a pirate.

Now that his obligation to the pirates has ended, duty compels Frederic to devote himself to destroying them. When the men admit their inability to make piracy pay, Frederic explains that they are themselves slaves to their tender hearts, particularly regarding their refusal to take advantage of anyone they believe to be an orphan. Frederic wishes he could bring the pirates back to a respectable life, but the Pirate King rejects that possibility.

Ruth longs for Frederic to take her with him when he leaves. He admits that he is reluctant to marry her, and when he sees a group of lovely young women approaching, he knows he has made the right decision. The young women are astonished to encounter Frederic and horrified to hear that he is a pirate. He assures them that he only wants to love one of them. They all reject him except Mabel.

The pirates surprise the girls and anticipate soon becoming their husbands. Their father, the Major General, enters and objects to the girls being married against their wills to pirates. He lies his way out of the situation by claiming to be an orphan. The girls are released from the pirates’ clutches, as Mabel and Frederic look forward to their marriage.

The police, hearing that an attack has happened on the beach come to the rescue, albeit late. Frederick decides to stand with the police in attempting to rid Penzance of pirates, and he ventures off alone to find them in their lair. Ruth and the Pirate King surprise Frederick and explain that Frederic was to be apprenticed until his 21st birthday, but having been born in a leap year on 29 February, he is officially only five. The Pirate King insists that Frederic respect his own sense of duty and return to the pirate ship. Mabel begs Frederick to ignore the pirates’ claim, but swears that she will be faithful as she waits over sixty years for him to officially turn twenty-one.

Afflicted by insomnia, the Major General enters. Frederic and the pirates seize the Major General and overcome the police. When the Sergeant implores the pirates to yield in the Queen’s name, Ruth reveals that they are in fact peers of the realm. With this revelation, they are pardoned by the Major General, who rewards them with the girls’ hands in marriage.

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