Wye Operetta Workshop Brings “Pirates of Penzance” to Avalon

The highly successful Wye Operetta Workshop (WOW!) returns to Easton for the fourth year with another Gilbert and Sullivan favorite, “The Pirates of Penzance.” There will be three free performances at the Avalon Theatre on Friday and Saturday, July 22 and 23 at 7:30 and on Sunday, July 24 at 4 p.m.

This rollicking, rowdy operetta takes place on the rocky coast of Cornwall and is complete with wonderful misunderstandings and a leap-year generated obstacle that must be overcome. “Pirates” premiered on December 30 and 31, 1879 – almost simultaneously – on both sides of the Atlantic, in London and New York. It has been consistently popular with young and old alike for its humor, intrigue, and memorable music, including “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” and “I am a Pirate King.”

Those who attended WOW!’s Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in previous years will be glad to know that 14 members from previous casts are returning to take part in “Pirates.” Audience favorites Joey Shortall of Easton and Mary Remaniak of Cordova (the Fairy Queen in “Iolanthe”) will be seen again, as he plays Frederic, and she returns as Nursemaid Ruth. Other returning players include Tim Coffelt, who delighted audiences as the Mikado and as Strephon in “Iolanthe”; he will be portraying Major-General Stanley. Sean Foley, Lord Mountararat in “Iolanthe,” will play the Sergeant of Police.

WOW! is very pleased that joining the cast this year are two Salisbury University students who are studying under John Wesley Wright and will have leading roles in “Pirates”: Caitlyn Howard will play Mabel, and James Carpenter will appear as the Pirate King.

The Artistic Director of the Wye Operetta Workshop is Bonnie Forgacs. A mezzo soprano, Ms. Forgacs has returned to her native Eastern Shore following an impressive career. She has a repertoire of 24 opera roles and made her Carnegie Hall debut in “Das Rheingold” with the Opera Orchestra of New York. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, she loves working with young people and introducing them to the joys of music, particularly operetta.

WOW!’s Music Director is Amy Morgan, a gifted keyboard artist and teacher who has a classical piano performance degree from Salisbury University where she studied under Music Department Chair and Bach scholar Dr. Linda E. Cockey. Skilled contractor Don Anderson of Queenstown designed and built the set, which was painted by Tim Young. The performers are professionally costumed through the generosity of Workshop supporters.

The Wye Operetta Workshop is under the auspices of the Wye Conservatory of Music. It is funded in part by grants from the Talbot County Arts Council and the Choptank Electric Trust and through contributions from supporters. For information about the Conservatory, contact Marie U’Ren at muren@goeaston.net or 410.822.5089.