KOKOMO, Ind. — Live musical theatre returns to the Havens Auditorium stage as Indiana University Kokomo presents The Pirates of Penzance.
The performance is open to the public, with limited seating. Free reservations must be made by emailing Wendy Grice, co-director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will also be livestreamed on the Havens Auditorium Facebook page, also free.
Shows are at 7 p.m. Friday, March 26, and Saturday, March 27, with a 3 p.m. performance Sunday, March 28.
The cast is thrilled to perform for an audience, Grice said.
“They are just so excited now, and I am so happy for them,” she said. “It’s been such a tough go of it in the last year for this show, and they look forward to performing in front of people.”
It’s been a long process to stage this production, starting from the 2019-2020 school year.
“We were two weeks from opening night when everything went virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “I’m thankful that most of the students who were in it last year are still able to be part of the show. We lost six chorus members and one minor role to graduation, but all of our principal cast was able to come back.”
She held auditions during fall semester to fill the few open roles and add chorus members, and then began rehearsals again. Even though it’s the same show as last year, there have still been challenges, as they’ve had to make accommodations for safety — including distancing and wearing masks until the final rehearsals and performances.
With the auditorium doubling as a classroom, they can’t have traditional sets, and will use backdrops with a few pieces of furniture instead. They’ve also replaced the orchestra with a piano accompanist.
Whatever the challenges, Grice said it’s been worth it for the students to be able to perform again.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “They look so relaxed together. This has been something that’s been a stress reliever for many of them, and something normal in a year that hasn’t been as usual.”
Junior Nate Moore, who plays the Pirate King, said students are happy to finally be able to perform the show for an audience.
“It was good to bring it back,” he said. “In a way, it worked out better to do it this time around. We were able to get a few more people in chorus roles, and have all of our lead cast return. Even though it had been a while, once we started practicing, the parts came back to us.”
Grice and co-director Garry Grice chose the comic operetta because it’s a challenge.
“We try to stretch the kids,” she said. “We see the musical as part of their education. Some of them are taking it for credit, and some are doing it as their capstone project. We try to have them do challenging music, not just what’s popular at the moment.”
Moore said it’s very different than the shows he performed in while in high school.
“There are a lot more difficult vocal things going on, and a lot of times characters will enter a scene singing, but without piano under them. It’s a challenge.”
He said, though, that while it’s challenging, it is a fun show he thinks the audience will enjoy.
“It’s a type of comedy that you have to follow along with what’s going on, and then you see how silly it is,” he said. “It’s kind of a slapstick routine throughout the entire show. I think people will get a kick out of fit.”
Those attending will receive an email confirmation from Grice, which includes a link to the program and directions about COVID-19 requirements for attendance, which include wearing a mask and family groups being seated at a distance from other groups.
Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.