Book by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert
Music by Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan
Lyrics by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert
Set sail with this classic comedy that boasts one of the most famous patter songs in musical theatre history. The wit and whimsy of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic score is suffused with a modern sensibility in The Pirates of Penzance JR, a swashbuckling musical journey!
Set on the rocky coast of Cornwall, England, The Pirates of Penzance JR begins with a group of pirates who are celebrating the birthday of one of their own, Frederic, who has reached his 21st year. Finally having served the full length of his required time with the pirates, he decides to strike off on his own and become an upstanding citizen - which may even mean bringing the pirates to justice. Thus turns out to be a tricky prospect indeed, especially when Frederic's freedom is called into question!
The Pirates of Penzance JR is a light, comic introduction to the work of Gilbert and Sullivan, featuring opportunities for singing as an ensemble or in small groups, with vocal parts written in unison or simple two-part harmony.
[Pirate King, Pirates]
[Daughters, Edith, Kate]
[Frederic, Edith, Kate, Daughters]
[Frederic, Daughters, Mabel]
[Frederic, Daughters, Pirates]
[Major-General, Samuel, Pirate King, Pirates, Mabel, Daughters]
[Peter, Tiger Lily, Brave Girls, Lost Boys, Children]
[Ruth, Frederic, Pirate King]
[Ruth, Frederic, Pirate King]
[Daughters, Pirates, Major-General, Mabel, Frederic]
[Sergeant, Pirate King, Police, Daughters, Major-General, Ruth, Pirate King, Mabel, Frederic, Edith]
Samuel is a pirate and serves as the second in command to the Pirate King. Where the Pirate King is self-assured, assertive, and strong, Samuel is more bookish. Think of him as the accountant to the Pirates. Samuel has some featured solos and it is a good role for a performer who is showing good promise, but needs to nurture their skills a bit.
Vocal range: Bb3-Eb3
The Pirate King is a great comic lead for a boy who is self assured, a bit of a ham, and great at physical comedy. Cast someone who is inventive, fearless and willing to take positive risks. The Pirate King should sing reasonably well, but he doesn't need to be a polished singer. Consider casting someone who is athletically inclined and a natural leader-this is a great role for the star soccer player, or captain of the football team.
Vocal range: B3-Eb5
Frederic is the male ingï¿½nue of the show. He should have a great voice that is polished. Frederic should also have looks that qualify as "dreamy" if at all possible. Think Davy Jones, Luke Perry or anyone who may be worthy of the cover of Teen Beat or Teen People. Frederic can be a better singer than an actor, but it's great if he can be both.
Vocal range: B3-F5
Ruth is a humoristic tour-de-force for a young comedian. She should be able to play matronly but still be vibrant and full of energy. An actress who is physically different from Frederic is a great choice. For example, if your Frederic is tall and thin, consider a short and stocky Ruth. Ruth transforms from old matronly, to a knock-out beauty when she returns with the Pirate King in "When Fred'ric Was a Little Lad", so it's great to cast an actress who is versatile. Ruth has a featured solo, but doesn't have to be a polished singer. Cast a comedian who is naturally funny, and can be bigger than life. Someone who played Miss Hannigan in Annie Junior, or Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man Junior would make a great Ruth.
Vocal range: G3-Eb5
Kate, Edith and Isabel are the leaders of General Stanley's wards, with Edith serving as the leader among the three. Of the three, Kate and Edith have solos, although you could break-up their solos to provide Isabel with a solo as well. These three should be good singers, good dancers, and reasonable actresses. Traditionally, Edith wears glasses and is more bookish, Kate is aggressive and tomboyish, while Isabel is younger and more naï¿½ve. However, these three roles are open to interpretation. Consider having your actresses create their own character types as long as the characters are specific and can be sustained throughout the entire production. These are great roles for actresses you are nurturing for future lead parts.
Vocal range: G3-F5
Mabel is the female ingï¿½nue to Frederic's male ingï¿½nue. She must have a polished, operatic or legitimate voice. Mabel should be attractive and a reasonable actress, but doesn't need to be an accomplished actress. She's the female star of the show, and the character who takes the biggest risk.
Vocal range: G3-G5
Major-General Stanely is one of the signature character types in any Gilbert and Sullivan show. For Pirates the Major-General is the character who delivers the rapid fire patter song. An excellent part for a young performer who may not have great pitch, but has great rhythm. Cast that kid who listens to hip-hop and rap; they'll be a natural as the Major-General. Personality is primary in this part; acting, singing, and dancing are a definite second thought.
Vocal range: A3-Eb5
The Sergeant of Police should be a good singer and a great dancer. Don't hesitate to cast a girl in this role; simply slap on a handlebar moustache and you'll be good to go! Think "Key Stone Cops" as your inspiration.
Vocal range: C4-E5
For this chorus, you can cast your best dancers and singers and mix boys and girls, or just girls if that's your best option. The police are traditionally portrayed as "Key Stone Cops"; so performers who are physically adept will be a great addition to your show.
Vocal range: E3-F#5
These are the wards of Major General Stanley and can range in type and talent as broadly as required. Consider casting Daughters who are accomplished dancers and letting them take the lead in the dances. Cast singing Daughters to lead the singing; throw in some kids who can neither sing nor dance but are great character actresses and encourage them to be funny. Mix it up and your Daughter chorus will be an outstanding addition to your Pirates company.
Vocal range: F3-G5
If you didn't read the Daughter chorus description, do so now. Everything that applies to casting the Daughters, applies to the Pirates. Don't hesitate to mix boys and girls as Pirates. (In fact sometimes girls make the best pirates!) You can have your chorus of Police play Pirates in the early numbers to give everyone more to do.
Vocal range: Bb3-F#5