Based on the characters and style of Gilbert and Sullivan, The Pirates of Pinafore is a ridiculously silly “mash-up” of G&S scores in a fresh, new comedy.
Sir Joseph’s daughters find themselves shipwrecked on “Atlantis,” a seemingly deserted tropical island. Josephine is certain that her beloved Ralphric (a female pant role) will come back with their father to rescue them. When they do, things get out-of-control quickly as Ralphric, Baby Ruth, and the rest of the “sailors” reveal that they are actually pirates who have come to Atlantis to look for their missing Pirate King. Leading the pirates, Ralphric is now “Pirate King-Elect,” and will become the Pirate King if they cannot locate their King.
Because a Pirate King-Elect such as Ralphric does not take orders from a captain in the British Navee, Ralphric informs Sir Joseph that he will marry Josephine without his consent as well as thieve and pillage him and his daughters. It is in the piratical rules, after all. Also in the rules is that Ralphric, as a tenor, cannot help but fall in love with sopranos. This becomes all too clear to jilted Josephine with Mabel starts singing and Ralphric’s fickle attentions are instantly shifted to Mabel.
Mabel’s time in the spotlight of Ralphric’s eye is short-lived, however, when Patience arrives with her warrior cousins to capture the pirates (who had captured the daughters). Once Ralphric hears Patience’s soprano voice, both Josephine and Mabel are forgotten. As the three sopranos fight over their “tenor,” four geishas arrive with their chaperone after being shipwrecked on their way to a study abroad program. Despite that they are unable to count to four, one of the “three little maids from school” instantly charms Ralphric with her high notes. Act I ends with mass chaos as all the new inhabitants of the island attempt to sort out the recent happenings.
Act II begins three months later as all the daughters, warriors, pirates and maids are working together to fix the shipwrecked boats so they can go home. Ralphric, however, has the larger problem of trying to choose a bride from among the four sopranos. Baby Ruth (male skirt role), his lifelong friend, is frustrated that Ralphric fails to notice the most obvious of all – she should be his bride. This cannot happen, of course – it is against operatic rules for a tenor to fall in love with a mezzo instead of a soprano! Meanwhile, the four sopranos seek out the Pirate King-Elect with a plan to solve his paradox – they will hold a contest in which he will marry whichever can sing the highest. Insisting that high notes alone are not what makes a soprano beautiful, Ralphric manages to convice the sopranos to wait until the ships are completed because if they do not find their King by then, he will become the Pirate King and at that time will choose one of them to be his Pirate Queen.
Reports to Sir Joseph indicate completion of the ships, but they are not out of the woods yet. In order to navigate the Bermuda Triangle, Sir Joseph indicates they must locate a rare beast indigenous to the island – the group must go on a snipe hunt! While most of the group is out searching, maids Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo and Cio-Cio-Sang stay and learn of Sir Joseph’s struggles as a man of the sea with only daughters. It turns out that eighteen years ago Sir Joseph had a son. His beloved wife (a mezzo) died in childbirth. In order to ensure that his son would never face the pain of losing such a rare and precious woman (a mezzo), he betrothed his infant son to a neighbor girl – a soprano. Alas, both his son and the neighbor girl were stolen by pirates as infants.
The search party returns with a strange man found on the other side of the island. Certain that this savage man stole the snipe, they prepare to do whatever it takes to get the answers they need. This man, however, knows more about them than even they know…
Running time: Approximately 120 minutes
Time: Good question
Place: The beach of Atlantis
Cast (in order of appearance):
Josephine, Sir Joseph’s daughter (soprano)
Mabel, Sir Joseph’s daughter (soprano)
Maude, Sir Joseph’s daughter (chorus lead)
Ralphric, a masculine ingénue (female pants role)
Sir Joseph, captain in the Queen’s Navee (baritone)
Baby Ruth, token rejected-by-love-mezzo (male skirt role)
Patience, leader of the warrior cousins (soprano)
Yum-Yum, a study abroad student (soprano)
Pitti-Sing, a study abroad student (soprano or mezzo)
Peep-Bo, a study abroad student (soprano or mezzo)
Cio-Cio-Sang, a study abroad student (soprano or mezzo)
Ko-Ko, study abroad chaperone (silent, never gets a word in edge-wise)
Savage Man (baritone)
Chorus of Sir Joseph’s Daughters, Sailors/Pirates, Patience’s Warrior Cousins
“Climbing over rocky mountains” (arranged from The Pirates of Penzance) (Josephine, Daughters)
“The hours creep on apace” (arranged from H. M. S. Pinafore) (Josephine)
“My gallant crew, good morning” (arranged from H. M. S. Pinafore) (Sir Joseph, Sailors)
“From the briny sea” (arranged from Ruddigore) (Sir Joseph, Daughters, Sailors)
“Things are seldom what they seem” (arranged from H. M. S. Pinafore) (Ralphric, Baby Ruth)
“Poor wan’dring one” (arranged from The Pirates of Penzance) (Mabel, Daughters)
“With cat-like tread” (arranged from The Pirates of Penzance) (Patience, Warrior cousins, Pirates)
“I cannot tell what this love may be” (arranged from Patience) (Patience, Warrior cousins, Daughters, Pirates)
“Comes a train of little ladies” (arranged from The Mikado) (Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, Cio-Cio-Sang)
“Three little maids from school are we” (arranged from The Mikado) (Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, Cio-Cio-Sang)
“The sun whose rays are all ablaze” (arranged from The Mikado) (Yum-Yum)
Act I Finale (Orchestra)
“Were I thy bride” (arranged from The Yeomen of the Guard) (Baby Ruth)
“A paradox” (arranged from The Pirates of Penzance) (Josephine, Mabel, Patience, Yum-Yum, Ralphric)
“Take a pair of sparkling eyes” (arranged from The Gondoliers) (Ralphric)
“Then one of us will be a queen” (arranged from The Gondoliers) (Josephine, Mable, Patience, Yum-Yum)
“Oh dry the glistening tear” (arranged from The Pirates of Penzance) (Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, Cio-Cio-Sang)
“With cat-like tread reprise” (arranged from The Pirates of Penzance) (Company)
“None shall part us from each other” (arranged from Iolanthe) (Ralphric, Baby Ruth)
Act II Finale (Company)