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Published: Thursday, 6/19/2008

Findlay Light Opera prepares to hoist a musical pirate's flag

BLADE STAFF WRITER
Playing the sweethearts Mabel and Frederic in the Findlay
Light Opera production of The Pirates of Penzance are Angela
Oestrich and Seth Carey.
Playing the sweethearts Mabel and Frederic in the Findlay Light Opera production of The Pirates of Penzance are Angela Oestrich and Seth Carey.
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The Findlay Light Opera Company enters its third decade tonight as it presents The Pirates of Penzance by W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.

"Our talent this year is phenomenal," said director Vicki McClurkin, who has been associated with the company since its beginning 21 years ago.

"You say 'Gilbert & Sullivan' and everyone seems to come out of the woodwork to audition. All of our leads this year are trained in music or have musical backgrounds."

The cast of about 45 ranges in age from 15 to 83, she said. All are volunteers; only the orchestra and some of the staff members are paid.

There is a real loyalty to the company, said McClurkin, an adjunct professor of theater at the University of Findlay. "We have one show a year, always the third week in June, and we do it up big."

Always an audience favorite, The Pirates of Penzance is about a pirate's apprentice who wants to become a law-abiding citizen. It gently pokes fun at the exaggerated Victorian sense of duty with such tunes as "The Modern Major General," the lyrics of which include "I am the very model of a modern Major General,/ I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,/I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical/From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical."

Gilbert and Sullivan premiered Pirates in 1879, and it has been performed ever since. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company alone presented it almost continuously from 1880 through 1982, and it shows up regularly at the Ohio Light Opera and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

For the Findlay production, Bob Schirmer plays Major General Stanley, Brian Seever is the Pirate King, Eric Hertenstein is Samuel, the Pirate King's lieutenant; Seth Carey is Frederic, the Pirate King's apprentice; Kathy Newell is Ruth, the pirates' maid; Angela Ostreich, Sarah Diller, Kelly Ortiz, and Sarah Santilli are Isabel, Kate, and Edith, General Stanley's daughters; and Mark Simons is the sergeant of police.

The Findlay Light Opera Company presents Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" at 8 p.m. today-Saturday in Central Auditorium, 200 West Main Cross St., Findlay. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students through the Arts Partnership, 419-422-4624, or at the door. Information: www.findlaylightopera.com.

The Ohio Light Opera is putting the final touches on its season, which begins tomorrow and continues through Aug. 9 at the College of Wooster, about 120 miles east of Toledo.

Founded in 1979 under artistic director James Stuart, the Ohio Light Opera is the only professional company in the United States entirely devoted to operetta, according to the OLO Web site. This year's repertoire of eight shows includes four never before presented at OLO, bringing to 100 the number of different shows produced over its 29-year existence.

New this year are Jerome Kern's The Cabaret Girl, running June 26-Aug. 8; Emmerich Kalman's Marinka, running July 23-Aug. 9; Franz Lehr's The Czarevitch, running Wednesday through Aug. 8; and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma, which opens the season tomorrow and runs through Aug. 6.

The season also includes two Gilbert & Sullivan classics, The Mikado, running Tuesday through Aug. 7, and The Yeomen of the Guard, July 2-Aug.7.

Rounding out the season will be Sigmund Romberg's The Desert Song, Saturday through Aug. 9, and Emmanuel Chabrier's L'Etoile ("The Star"), July 16-Aug. 6.

All of the productions are translated and sung in English. Shows are generally presented at 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Evening shows are added on Wednesday the final two weeks of the season.

The weekly list of shows will be included in the theater section of the Peach Weekender's calendar of events.

The Ohio Light Opera begins its 29th season tomorrow in Freedlander Theatre, 329 East University St., Wooster. Tickets are $41 and $15 for students for individual shows; package pricing for five to eight shows is available. A full list of shows, directions to Wooster, and other information can be found at ohiolightopera.org or by calling (330) 263-2345.

- Nanciann Cherry



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