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The Pirates of Penzance

Programme Cover

the Broadway version

(Music by Arthur Sullivan: Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert: As presented on Broadway by New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp, Producer: Directed by Wilford Leach: Musical Adaptation by William Elliott: Choreography by Graciela Daniele)

Delacorte Theatre, 15 July, 1980: transferred to Uris Theatre, 8 January, 1981 and then to the Minskoff Theatre, 15 July, 1980
Lyric Theatre, London - 14 November, 1982


This vividly fresh approach to a time-honoured favourite has won rapturous critical and public approval on both sides of the Atlantic. With a more compact orchestration, up-dated production notes and the restoration of the 1879 New York finale this version will win new audiences for a great tradition.


(The coast of Cornwall)

The pirates of Penzance (a rather tender-hearted band, made up exclusively of orphans and unable to harm anyone of similar background) are celebrating Frederic's coming of age and subsequent release from his apprenticeship to them. He joined the pirates as a child owing to a mistake by Ruth, his nursemaid, who misheard his father's instructions to apprentice him to a pilot. She has remained with Frederic ever since and now harbours a desire to marry him.

However, Frederic has met and fallen in love with Mabel whose sisters the pirates have claimed as their future brides. Their father, the General, is horrified at this prospect and declares himself to be an orphan, knowing that this will effect their immediate release. As an ex-pirate, Frederic now feels that his duty is to society and he wastes no time in assembling a police force to capture the pirates. He is, therefore, dismayed when he learns from Ruth and the Pirate King that, due to the fact that his birthday is on 29th February and only occurs once every four years, he has in effect only had five birthdays; the terms of his apprenticeship state that he is bound to the pirates until his 21 st birthday.

Consequently, feeling that his loyalty is now to the pirates again, he reveals that the General is not really an orphan. The Pirate King is furious that he has been tricked and he plots to capture the General, his daughters and the policemen and take his revenge. This task proves no problem to his band of men until the Sergeant demands that they surrender in the name of Queen Victoria. This is too much for them and they yield to the request. However, as they are about to be taken into custody Ruth reveals that they are not really pirates at all, but noblemen who have gone astray. On hearing this, the General orders their release, restores them to their rightful ranks and offers them his daughters in marriage.


5 Male, 5 Female. Chorus.

The Pirate King
Samuel, His Lieutenant
Ruth, A Pirate Maid
Major-General Stanley's Daughters: Edith; Kate; Isabel; Mabel
Major-General Stanley
The Sergeant
Pirates & Police

Musical Numbers

Act I

Pour, 0 Pour The Pirate Sherry - Pirate King, Samuel, Frederic and Pirates
When Frederic Was A Little Lad - Ruth
Oh, Better Far To Live And Die - Pirate King & Pirates
Oh, False One, You Have Deceived Me! - Ruth & Frederic
Climbing Over Rocky Mountain - Edith, Kate & Daughters
Stop, Ladies, Pray! - Frederic & Daughters
Oh, Is There Not One Maiden Breast - Frederic & Daughters
Poor Wandering One - Mabel & Daughters
What Ought We To Do? - Edith, Kate & Daughters
How Beautifully Blue The Sky - Mabel, Frederic & Daughters
Stay, We Must Not Lose Our Senses - Frederic, Daughters & Pirates
Hold, Monsters! - Mabel, Samuel, Major-General, Daughters & Pirates
I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General - Major-General & Ensemble
Oh, Men Of Dark & Dismal Fate - Ensemble

Act II

Oh, Dry The Glistening Tear - Mabel & Daughters
Then Frederic Let Your Escort Lion-Hearted - Major-General & Frederic
When The Foeman Bares His Steel - Sergeant, Mabel, Police & Daughters
Now For The Pirates' Lair - Frederic, Pirate King & Ruth
When You Had Left Our Pirate Fold - Ruth, Frederic & Pirate King
My Eyes Are Fully Open* - Frederic, Ruth & Pirate King
Away, Away! My Heart's On Fire - Ruth, Pirate King & Frederic
All Is Prepared - Mabel & Frederic
Stay, Frederic, Stay! - Mabel & Frederic
Sorry Her Lot** - Mabel
No, I Am Brave - Mabel, Sergeant & Police
When A Felon's Not Engaged In His Employment - Sergeant & Police
A Rollicking Band of Pirates We - Pirates, Sergeant & Police
With Cat-Like Tread, Upon Our Prey We Steal Pirates - Police & Samuel
Hush, Hush! Not A Word - Frederic, Pirates, Police & Major-General
Sighing Softly To The River - Major-General & Ensemble
Finale Ensemble

* From Ruddigore
** From HMS Pinafore