[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

                                                                                                       Sept. 26, 2005


CUA Presents ‘The Pirates of Penzance


Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presents the “The Pirates of Penzance”one of the most popular and enduring of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas — as the opening production of its 2005-2006 season.

The operetta, which had its New York premiere on New Year’s Eve 1879, tells the story of Frederic, apprenticed as a child to a band of tenderhearted pirates by his hard-of-hearing nurse who misunderstood her master’s instructions to assign the boy to a pilot. Jane Pesci-Townsend directs the CUA production; N. Thomas Pedersen is the music director. 


The performances at CUA’s Ward Recital Hall will take place over two non-consecutive weekends. Show times and dates are as follows: 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct.1; 2 p.m. Sunday Oct. 2; 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, and Saturday, Oct. 15; and 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 16.

Pesci-Townsend describes “The Pirates of Penzance” as “the strongest of the Gilbert and Sullivan shows, and it’s so ridiculously funny. We haven’t done a Gilbert and Sullivan production at Catholic University in many years, so this is a great opportunity to expose our students to the most famous of all those shows.”

Officially titled “The Pirates of Penzance, or the Slave of Duty,” the show reveals the story of Frederic, who rejoices when he turns 21, believing that he has fulfilled his apprenticeship. Unfortunately Frederic learns that, because he was born on Feb. 29 in leap year, he must remain an apprentice until his 21st birthday. The memorable cast also includes a major general who knows nothing of military strategy, his large family of beautiful but unwed daughters and the timid constabulary.

CUA actors who play lead roles in the university’s production include the following music theater majors: senior Patrick McCrossan (Frederic), junior Eileen Smith (Mabel), junior Matt Greenfield (major general), junior Jon Hand (pirate king), sophomore Jamison Boyle (sergeant of police) and senior Kelly Tighe (Ruth). Sophomore music theater major Jesse Palmer and junior drama major Andrew Sonntag are the show’s co-choreographers.


“We have very promising young people here with tremendous talent,” says music director Pedersen. “This show affords D.C. audiences an opportunity to see them before they hit the big time.”


In recent years, CUA music theater majors have earned Helen Hayes Award nominations for their performances in Washington, D.C., area productions. They have included Lauren Williams, who earned a 2004 nod for outstanding supporting actress in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at Signature Theatre, and Patrick O’Neill, who captured a 2003 nomination for outstanding lead actor in “Bat Boy: The Musical” at The Studio Theatre Secondstage.


Ticket prices are $15 for general audience and $10 for seniors, students, staff and children. For additional details, call 202-319-5416.


MEDIA:             To cover the CUA production of “The Pirates of Penzance,” reviewers must contact Katie Lee in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.




Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is the only university music school in the Washington, D.C., area. The music school offers both undergraduate and graduate programs of study in performance of instrumental music (including chamber music and orchestral studies), piano, voice (including choral music and opera), composition and theory, musicology, conducting, musical theater, music education, voice and piano pedagogy. New programs include the Institute of Sacred Music, and an emphasis within the composition program of composing for the theater. The music school designs programs and curricula that encourage young musicians to be imaginative in developing audiences, in providing musical service throughout communities, and in connecting with the evolution of American arts institutions and new ways to serve humanity.






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Revised: 10/11/2005

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The Catholic University of America,
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