The Pirates of Penzance JR.
A hilarious farce with sentimental pirates, dim-witted young lovers and an eccentric Major-General, based on the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
Show Essentials
10
Roles
+ Ensemble
U
Rated
1
Act

Full Synopsis

The play opens on a rocky sea-shore on the coast of Cornwall, England, around 1880. The pirates are lounging about on this secluded spot having a birthday celebration for their young apprentice, Frederic, who has reached his 21st year ("Pour, O Pour the Pirate Sherry"). However, as Frederic is out of his indentures on this day, he has decided to go off into civilization and become an upstanding citizen, which also means that it will be his duty to bring the pirates to justice. His nurse maid, Ruth, who has helped to raise Frederic, reveals the truth that it was due to her hard-of-hearing that she accidentally apprenticed him to a pirate instead of a pilot ("When Frederic Was a Little Lad"). The Pirate King takes the news good-naturedly and wishes Frederic well, but refuses to turn himself in. He would rather live and die a pirate ("Oh, Better Far to Live and Die").

Ruth wishes to travel on with Frederic, perhaps even become his future wife. As Frederic has never known any other women, he asks the middle-aged Ruth if she is considered to be beautiful. Ruth swears that she is, but her story is found false as a gaggle of girls come hopping and skipping and singing down to the shore. They are all young and beautiful and finally, for the first time in his life, Frederic recognizes the beauty of youth ("Climbing Over a Rocky Mountain"). Frederic turns on Ruth and accuses her of playing upon his innocence ("Oh, False One").

Ruth runs off, upset and alone, but Frederic hides among the rocks to watch the girls approach. He decides that he'd better make his presence known ("Stop, Ladies, Pray!") and tries to explain that his pirate costume does not indicate that he is a criminal, but that he indeed wishes to become an upstanding citizen ("Oh, Is There Not One Maiden Here"). The sisters, all shocked by this young pirate, take the proper course and reject him. However, one sister, Mabel, arrives on the scene late and is taken with Frederic's noble goals ("Poor Wandering One!"). For Frederic and Mabel it is love at first sight, but the lovely scene is interrupted by the arrival of the attacking pirates ("Stay, We Must Not Lose Our Senses").

Just as all seems lost, the father of the girls arrives and happens to be a Major-General ("I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General"). Knowing that, historically, the Pirates of Penzance do not attack orphans, the General announces that he is an orphan in the hopes that the pirates will set his daughters free ("Oh, Men of Dark and Dismal Fate"). The Pirates feel sorry for the General and agree to let the daughters go free and, for the moment, all is happy.

Scene Two opens at the Major-General's castle at night. The Major-General cannot sleep and is wandering the grounds, upset. His daughters come out to comfort him ("Oh, Dry the Glistening Tear"). The General tells Frederic that he escaped from the pirates because he said he was an orphan, but it wasn't true. He fears the pirates will find out and come to attack him again. Frederic has organized the police force to overtake the pirates and feels the General has nothing to fear – the pirates will be in jail before midnight ("When the Foeman Bares His Steel").

Frederic, alone to ready himself for battle, receives a surprise visit from the Pirate King and Ruth. They come with unfortunate news: as Frederic was born on the 29th of February, his birthday only comes once every four years and therefore he is only five birthdays old. According to his indentures, he is to remain in the pirates' service until his 21st birthday ("When You Had Left Our Pirates' Fold"). Resigned to his duty, Frederic agrees to join the pirates in attacking the General for falsely claiming himself as an orphan. However, he swears to Mabel that he will return to her (even though it will be 1940) when he has completed his apprenticeship with the pirates.

The Police Sergeant must now lead his force alone ("Tarantara, Tarantara!"). Upon hearing the pirates approach, ("A Rollicking Band of Pirates We") the police force decides that the best measure of defense is to hide. The pirates arrive on the scene ready for battle ("With Cat-like Tread, Upon Our Prey We Steal"). Hearing the Major-General coming outside, the pirates decide to hide and ambush him. The daughters reappear to find out why the General is out of bed again ("Now What is This and What is That?"). The pirates attack, and the police force drums up the courage to save the daughters. A bold battle ensues, but the pirates are cut short when the Sergeant charges the pirates in the name of the Queen. The pirates, feeling duty to the Queen beyond all other infractions of the law, give themselves up. Ruth steps forward to explain to the Sergeant that the pirates are all noble men who have done wrong and deserve the chance to become upstanding citizens ("Finale"). Mabel and Frederic are reunited, and all the pirates become loyal subjects to the Queen.

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Flexible
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Samuel
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 top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Pirate King
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 top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Frederic
Frederic - is the male ingénue 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 top: F5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Ruth
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 top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Kate

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 naïve. 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 top: F5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Edith

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 naïve. 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 top: F5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Isabel

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 naïve. 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 top: F5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Mabel
Mabel is the female ingénue to Frederic's male ingénue. 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 top: G5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Major-general Stanley
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 top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Sergeant
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 top: E5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Police Chorus
For Police 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 top: F#5
Vocal range bottom: E3
Daughter Chorus
For Daughter Chorus - 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 characters 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 top: G5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Pirate Chorus
Pirate Chorus - 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 top: F#5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Full Song List
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Pour, o Pour the Pirate Sherry
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: When Fred'ric Was a Little Lad
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Oh, Better Far to Live and Die
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Oh, False One, You Have Deceived Me
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Climbing Over Rocky Mountain
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Stop! Ladies, Pray!
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Oh, Is There Not One Maiden
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Poor Wand'ring One
The Pirates of Penzance JR.: Stay, We Must Not Lose Our Sense

Connect

Curriculum Connection

  • Vocabulary
  • Leap Years
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Pirate Lore
  • Naval History
  • British Empire

Billing

Requirements

Under the terms and conditions of your organisation’s Performance Agreement, the following credits must appear on all advertising (including websites) relating to the production. Credits must be reproduced faithfully in accordance with the following layout. No alterations or deletions can be permitted unless stated below.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.

Author Billing – The Pirates of Penzance JR.

In accordance with the Performance Agreement, all advertising, such as posters and programme covers, must include the show logo as provided in the ShowKit® Director's Guide and all of the following author billing.

It is a violation of your contract if you crop or edit this logo in any way.

The [Licensee]
Production of
The Pirates of Penzance JR.
Book and Lyrics by Sir William S. Gilbert
 
Music by Sir Arthur S. Sullivan
 
As presented on Broadway by the New York Shakespeare Festival
Produced by Joseph Papp Directed by William Leach
Music Adaptation by William Elliot Choreography by Graciela Daniele
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included

Production Resources

Resource
ACTOR'S BOOK TENPACK
FAMILY MATTERS (PACK OF 10)
LOGO PACK
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT SMALL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT X-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT XX-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD SMALL
STUDENT REHEARSAL CD
SUBPLOT CUSTOMIZABLE SHOW POSTERS