Pirates of Penzance: Light Opera Theatre

The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $15-$20. Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento at the 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th Street; (916) 258-5687; www.lightoperasac.org. Through February 26.

24th Street Theatre

2791 24th St.
Sacramento, CA 95818

(916) 452-3005

A wonderful live orchestra combines with a vivacious cast of pirates, policemen and girls to create an enjoyable evening of musical theater. Katie Daley directs the Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty, probably the best-known of the duo’s works.

Young Frederic (Ian Cullity) has reached majority (age 21) and is ready to go straight after years of indenture to the infamous Pirates of Penzance. He meets a gaggle of girls walking near the pirates’ headquarters and falls in love with the beautiful Mabel (Sara Haugland). The girls’ father turns out to be the very model of a modern Major-General (Michael Baad). But Frederic learns that, thanks to Leap Day, he’s technically not of age, and his indenture to the pirates must continue. What to do?

Cullity is great in the lead and has a more than capable range. Haugland has a beautifully trained voice that captures the epic nature of Gilbert and Sullivan. The cast is most enthusiastic, and does a fine job of creating the ridiculous world of pirates and lawmen.

Supertitles keep the audience caught up with the plot—with glance, it’s possible to follow the carefully crafted and quick-paced jokes with which Pirates is fully loaded. Many of the songs use $5 words that haven’t seen much light in more than a century, and the text keeps the audience from going adrift.

The music—a live local orchestra—is excellent, with fine players under the direction of Philip Daley.

There are a few rough edges with this naughty bunch, but expect these minor issues to be quickly resolved, leaving nothing but seafaring chortles for a rollicking band of pirates.