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UCA Music Department sailing toward performance of The Pirates of PenzanceOriginally Published March 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 27, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
The University of Central Arkansas Department of Music will present The Pirates of Penzance at 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 6 and at 3 p.m. April 7 in the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA. Among those appearing in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta are, front row, from the left, Katy Hoover, who will portray Ruth on April 5 and 7; Nicolas Cortes, who will play Frederic on April 6; Sarah Cain, who will play Mabel on April 5 and 7; Malissa Mobley, who will portray Mabel on April 6; Stuart Perryman, who will play Frederic on April 5 and 7; and Jessica Kongenske, who will play Ruth on April 6; and back row, from the left, Jonathan Pillow, who portrays the Pirate King, and Clay Sanders, who plays Major-General Stanley.
From the pitter-patter lyrics of the Major-General’s Song — “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” — to the twisty-curvy plot of a young pirate born on Feb. 29 who is seeking true love, The Pirates of Penzance is sure to offer something for everyone.
Members of the University of Central Arkansas Department of Music will present the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta April 5-7 in the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 6, and 3 p.m. April 7. There is no admission charge.
Robert Holden and Wolfgang Oeste, co-directors of the UCA Opera Workshop, are in charge of the production. Holden is the stage director, and Oeste is the conductor and producer.
“It’s Gilbert and Sullivan,” said Holden, who has been a member of the UCA music faculty since 1996. “It’s fun; it’s frothy. It’s good fun for the whole family.
“Kids are doing it in elementary schools, in high schools, in colleges and on professional stages. The Pirates of Penzance is one of the two or three most popular works by Gilbert and Sullivan.”
Holden and Oeste said a performance such as this is often the first time the students have been in an opera or operetta.
“These students have choral backgrounds, and many have not ever done any stage work,” Holden said. “The opera workshop gives them the experience of singing and acting at the same time.”
Oeste, who has been on the UCA music faculty since 1990, said some students who have participated in the opera workshop have gone on to have professional careers in opera.
“I think any experience, whether it be opera, operetta or musical theater, gives them a definitive educational preparation,” Oeste said. “This is a socialization into the beginning of the performance process.”
Those familiar with past performances of the opera workshop may notice two things that are different in this year’s production — there is no orchestra, and the number of chorus members is less than some years.
“We have a piano only this year,” Holden said. “We were unable to work out anything with the Conway Symphony Orchestra, but we are very pleased to have Betty Cohen as our pianist. She is the organist at First United Methodist Church and is a longtime Conway resident. We are very blessed to have her.”
“Our chorus numbers are down a little bit,” Oeste said. “We have two choruses with five members in each — one of pirates and one of police. To get the full sound, everybody sings. The pirates sing alongside the policemen.”
Soloists in the operetta include the following:
• The Pirate King, a baritone role, is portrayed by Jonathan Pillow, a senior from Little Rock.
• Samuel, a baritone role, is played by Zhoa Zimi, a senior from China. Parker Rognrud, a sophomore from Little Rock, is the cover or understudy.
• Sergeant of Police, a baritone role, is portrayed by Jeremy Hopper, a junior from Springdale.
• Frederic, a tenor role, is portrayed by Nicolas Cortes, a senior from Bolivia, on April 6, and by Stuart Perryman, a senior from Berryville, on April 5 and 7.
• Major-General Stanley, a baritone role, is played by Clay Sanders, a sophomore from Nashville, Ark.
• Ruth, a mezzo-soprano role, is portrayed by Katy Hoover, a senior from Jonesboro, on April 5 and 7, and by Jessica Kongenske, a senior from Pine Bluff, on April 6.
• Mabel, a soprano role, is portrayed by Sarah Cain, a senior from Jonesboro, on April 5 and 7, and by Malissa Mobley, a graduate student from Perryville, on April 6.
• Kate, a soprano role, is played by Emily Schaal, a junior from Springdale, on April 5 and 7 and by Laken Harrington, a junior from Cabot, on April 6.
• Edith, a soprano role, is played by Jeanne Marie Pichoff, a sophomore from Springdale, with Kendra Thomas, a junior from Conway, as the cover.
• Isabel, a mezzo-soprano role, is portrayed by Sally Hughes, a senior from Little Rock.
Members of the pirates chorus include Juan Garcia, a freshman from Rogers; James Scott, a sophomore from Camden; Natalie Skinner, a sophomore from Monticello; Jiay Shea, a junior from China; and Kendra Thomas.
Members of the police chorus include Erin Anders, a freshman from Rogers; Alexandra Delashmit, a freshman from North Little Rock; James Foote, a freshman from Marion; Veena Akama Makea, a freshman from Little Rock; and Parker Rognrud.
Shauna Meador, associate professor of theater at UCA, serves as the costume consultant. Tom Marhenke, UCA lecturer of theater, is in charge of set design and construction. Frank Rogers, technical director of the Reynolds Performance Hall, is the technical and lighting designer.