East Carolina University’s Opera Theatre will return to the stage for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver the comedic and music-filled showing of “Pirates of Penzance.”
The show will run Nov. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Arts of the Pamlico’s Historic Turnage Theatre, located at 150 W. Main Street, Washington, North Carolina. Director and assistant professor Daniel Shirley, said there is no better way for the Pirates to return to the stage than as Pirates.
“What better way to celebrate a return to live theater than with a show about pirates, by Pirates, for Pirates,” Shirley said. “I am overjoyed for ECU Opera to be making its return to the Historic Turnage Theater with this piece.”
For those planning to attend the performance, Shirley said they should expect a good time as “Pirates of Penzance” is full of technical performance vocals as well as comedic plot twists.
As far as returning to the stage goes, Shirley said they have all been waiting for this moment to come for a long time and thinks “Pirates of Penzance” offers elements of both the theatre and the opera that spectators will enjoy.
“‘Pirates (of Penzance)’ has hilarious dialogue like you would find in a musical and show stopping arias like you would find in an Italian opera,” Shirley said. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. It’s difficult to put into words what a joy it will be to perform live opera for our community.”
Zach Palma, a senior in ECU’s music therapy program, will play the Modern Major-General and said he’s excited for the role because it’s one he believes he can have fun with. The role, Palma said, allows him to be goofy but requires a lot of hard work and determination to master.
Palma said he is also excited to perform in front of a live audience as opposed to performing virtually.
“I am incredibly excited to perform in front of an audience,” Palma said. “I cannot wait to be on stage giving the audience a fun night. I have really missed that during COVID. Virtual performances are not the same.”
With his parents and grandparents planning to attend, Palma said he hopes to make someone laugh and show how hard he and his peers worked on the production.
“I hope to put on display an enjoyable performance that makes someone laugh,” Palma said. “So even someone who is having a bad day can watch my performance and forget about their worries for a little bit and just enjoy themselves. I also hope to put on display how hard the members of ECU Opera Theatre have worked to put on this production.”
Palma said he is thankful for his friends and family who have supported him over the last couple of months and hopes the audience feels all the energy invested in the show.
Playing the role of Pirate Lieutenant Samuel is senior music therapy major Guy Divon. With this being the first time his boyfriend will see him perform live, Divon said he’s excited to show some of his vocal growth and character portrayal.
“I want to show off my vocal growth over the last four years of school,” Divon said. “As well as my ability to portray this hilarious character in a way that is funny to the audience.”
Divon said he loves this character because of the hilarity it offers and the comic relief it brings to the show.
After being in an opera ensemble last fall and not performing a show, Divon said he missed performing in front of a live audience and the interaction between the stage and audience.
“The last time I was in an opera ensemble was last year in the fall and instead of doing a show we did character studies,” Divon said. “That was fun, but I'm really ready to get back to performing in person and interacting with a live audience.”