Pirates of Penzance a Real Test
The Alma College Spring Term course syllabus for the production of The Pirates of Penzance lays out strict guidelines for an entertaining experience. Perfect attendance at daily rehearsals, parts learned by May 13 and an absolute serious attitude should fill the house with laughter and applause.
The final test comes Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24-25 at 8 p.m. in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall, when the students enrolled in the four-week class show what they have learned. Tickets for adults are $8; students are free. Seating is by reservation.Staging a classic Gilbert and Sullivan musical in four weeks with a cast of students regardless of their majors can be a monumental task, but Music Professors Scott Messing and Will Nichols are confident they can sustain a two-night run with elegance and wit.
Stage Director Messing hopes the pirates' spirited fun and raucus antics come through in Alma's staging of the comic operetta while the students learn something about the creative process. "I hope the audience has a good time and enjoys themselves," Messing says.Grading for the Spring Term class is dependent on individual effort combined with the efforts of the group. The interactive and interdisciplinary educational experience has an obligation to the audience.
"I think (the production) gives the students a new perspective and understanding of the creative process as an active participant that they can not perceive as an audience member," Messing says. "Until you try it, you have a limited understanding of the enormous undertaking."
"It is how we view the Liberal Arts," he says. "In the study of literature, our students can only partially conceive what goes into writing a book. We teach our students about the science of space travel, but we don't expect all of our students to put a man on the moon."
The students learn many aspects of musical theatre. When not on stage they help Dave Young, Remick Heritage Center technical coordinator, build sets and position lighting. Costume Designer Tina Hartley enlists students to prepare the period costumes.
As Musical Director, Nichols directs the orchestra made up of student musicians plus Artists in Residence Tony Patterson and Jason Economides and must prepare the actors for their vocal parts. Most of the students are members of the College choir or glee clubs, but he has a half dozen students who have never sung in public.
The cast principles have been preparing for their parts during the College's Winter Term, but their dedication must be matched by the supporting cast members. "The funniest results for the audience come from the most serious efforts. Creating and maintaining a character while on stage is absolutely essential, even for a member of the chorus while not actually engaged in singing or movement," the syllabus states.
"Someone is always looking at you" Messing adds.
With perfect attendance, diligent study and serious attitudes, the student actors and musicians can aspire to the prediction Sir Arthur S. Sullivan made in a letter to his mother prior to the December 1879 opening of The Pirates of Penzance. "I think it will be a great success, for it is exquisitely funny and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching."
Reserved seating tickets for Remick Heritage Center Events may be reserved or purchased by visiting the Box Office Monday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. or calling (989) 463-7304. VISA, Discover and MasterCard sales are accepted. You can also order tickets via e-mail at email@example.com. Student/youth tickets are not released until the day of an event. Reserved tickets not claimed 30 minutes before performance time may be made available to the general public.
Posted: Wed, May 11th, 2005 at 1:14PM