The Pirates of Penzance (Public Domain) - April 07 - April 11, 2021

Pinkerton Academy

 Director's Note 

Singer, songwriter, and musician Nina Simone stated that “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” Though Pirates of Penzance does not necessarily reflect these times, the creative process the production team and cast have traversed over the past three months certainly fills the bill. Producing a show during a pandemic has been an experience like no other.


Before announcing virtual auditions, my collaborator and talented music director and choreographer, Laura Iwaskiewicz, and I made the decision to create two casts allowing for built-in under studies should a student have to step away from the show. A perfect idea, we thought, for a pandemic production, but that also meant we would need to double up on various elements: two rehearsal schedules, two tech weeks, two sets of costumes, two yearbook photo shoots, and so on. And so we did.


Then came the challenge of keeping everyone healthy and safe. When school closed for fully remote learning in late January-early February, we pivoted to remote rehearsals. When school reopened to a hybrid schedule, we ran hybrid rehearsals for students at home. Throughout in person rehearsals and continuing with the closing matinee, everyone involved in the production will have been masked, a particular challenge for singers and musicians. 


The pandemic presented a unique challenge for our musicians. It was out of the question to safely station the orchestra in the pit, so the musicians the audience hears are actually performing in the band room down the hall (socially distanced) with their music streamed into the theatre. The monitor audiences will notice at the edge of the stage reveals a projection of the band room. This allows actors to see Mike Adams conducting the orchestra while they perform. In fact, Ms. I’s most frequent note these days is “Don’t forget to look at Mr. Adams!” Likewise, there is a monitor in the bandroom where conductor and musicians may follow the actors on stage.


None of these great ideas work without talented technical theatre artists. Sound designer, Ryan LoPresti, brings the sound to life in the theatre and oversees livestreaming for family and friends near and far. Lighting designer, Tayva Young, has worked her magic by illuminating a dynamic set designed and built by Rob Lemire and the stage crew. The set serves as a perfect backdrop for Laurel O’Connor’s wonderful costumes. In the wings, Matt Cahoon has been our “go to” for technical support in the chorus room, running a homework club in the theatre lobby, or keeping an eye on things while the directors were pulled in other directions. One of the most patient people I know, MC is quietly waiting for this commentary as I write just hours before the first opening night.


The theme of duty is a recurring theme throughout Pirates of Penzance. This talented and dedicated team of theatre makers share a duty not just to the arts and arts education, but to the students we support and serve. Their collective joy throughout this process has inspired us and given us purpose to press on. It has been a journey none of us will ever forget, and a great story to tell when we recount the pandemic winter of 2021 made glorious summer by Gilbert and Sullivan’s music. 


So set sail with us, and enjoy the rest of the voyage!


-Mrs. Susanne Tartarilla

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