The chorus of Brave Community Theatre's "Pirates of Penzance" rehearses last month to prepare for Ag Days.
The chorus of Brave Community Theatre's "Pirates of Penzance" rehearses last month to prepare for Ag Days. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

The Brave Community Theatre (BCT) production of “Pirates of Penzance” will debut at the Spring Valley Community Center during Ag Days, Wednesday, Aug. 16, through Saturday, Aug. 19, as BCT marks its 45th anniversary in Spring Valley. 

“The way Eva Barr has designed this production will make it possible to do in both Spring Valley for Ag Days and Wykoff for Fall Fest.  The idea was to have a show that could serve both communities this year,” stated BCT board member Maria Klingsheim, a vocal soloist in the production.

“This production of ‘Pirates’ has original openings of both acts that set the stage for a truly creative and whimsical interpretation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic tale,” said Klingsheim.  “The chorus is tasked with all the vocals, and the students take over the stage with all the acting.  Eva Barr’s concept for the show is fresh and fantastic and will hypnotize audiences of all ages.” 

The storyline of “Pirates of Penzance” concerns Fredric, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tenderhearted pirates.  He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major General Stanley, and the two young people fall in love.  However, Fredric learns that he was born on Feb. 29 and so, technically, he has a birthday only once each leap year.  His indenture specifies that he must remain apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday, meaning that he must serve for another 63 years.  Bound by his own sense of duty, Fredric’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.

Rehearsals of the well-known show were begun during the first part of June, and the chorus and actors worked separately until July 31, at which point they combined their efforts to create a show with “pizzazz,” said Klingsheim. 

The cast includes vocal soloists Amanda Geer as Ruth, Klingsheim as Mabel, Craig Cornell as Sergeant of Police, Jon Dahl as Major General, Jeffrey Thauwald as Pirate King, Julie Mlinar as Edith and Kate, Kirby Johnson as Samuel and Gabrielle Ronnenberg as Fredric.  Actors – those crossing the stage and getting piratey, include Delia Dahl as Ruth, Emily Biermann as Mabel, Stanley Juzwiak as Sergeant of Police and Samuel, Cole Bouska as Major General, Reese Wolf as Pirate King, Abby Biermann as Edith, Renee Lechner as Kate and Emma Hansen as Isabel, Trey Pokorney as Fredric, Emma Howard, Bryan Huebner, Adele Stacken, Kelly Slivka, Paige Byorum, Ransom Woodrough and Honor Woodrough as police, pirates and maids.  The chorus encompasses Pam Freet, Karen Grandall, Marcy Capelle, Rebecca Oakland and Brian Oakland.    

Megan Hammon is making her debut as the musical director and doing costuming.  Amanda Geer, a newcomer to Spring Valley with a theatre degree and extensive experience both on and off stage, is the stage manager, Barr is directing and handling set design, Bretta Grabau is part of the stage crew and assisting with the actors, and Mlinar and Cornell are doing set construction.

 “This cast works as a team…no big egos.  Everyone is doing their part well and encouraging others.  This doesn’t always happen in theatre, so Spring Valley can be proud to know so many actors and singers are beyond willing to share their gifts and talents with the community at large,” said Klingsheim.

Barr’s production of “Pirates” is unique, but that helps the cast and chorus master their parts quicker. Due to the difficulty of the music and the intensely physical nature of the acting, having two groups performing each task is working out beautifully, noted Klinsheim. 

“The students are able and willing to see Ms. Barr’s vision, blocking and choreography to fruition, and the chorus is full of many seasoned singers and soloists,” she added.  “It’s an ingenious pairing.  And the larger cast is a huge plus for BCT – one of our current goals is to include more and more opportunities for young people to be involved in productions.” 

There have been challenges and rewards involved with tackling a show like “Pirates,” said Klingsheim. For example, the classical musical repertoire has taken time to learn and master.  However, working on this style of music is completely rewarding. 

“It is not often this show is produced because of the difficulty of the music.  I consider being in this production a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it,” said Klingsheim.

Some of the songs that the chorus and cast will perform include “Pour, O Pour the Pirate Sherry,”  which Klingsheim said is one that the audience can rollick along with the chorus, “I Am a Pirate King!,” “Poor Wandering One,” “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” and “With Cat-like Tread Upon Our Prey We Steal.”      

“Pirates of Penzance” is a family-friendly show that will engage audiences. It’s very kid-friendly because of all the action and exciting music, and very adult-friendly for the same reasons.  Audiences will like all the action, seeing so many young people, and also seeing so many BCT regulars, noted Klingsheim. 

Additionally, BCT is holding a “Pirates of Penzance” coloring contest in cooperation with The Pizza Place until Aug. 10.  Klingsheim outlined that there are four contest age groups – 3 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 12 and adult.  Each winner will receive a certificate for a family pizza party. 

Furthermore, there will be root beer served at the “Pirates” concession stand, and if attendees bring a mug to the show, they’ll receive $1 off A&W root beer. Audiences will be encouraged to raise their mugs and drink a toast during the very first song of the show. 

From 6 to 6:45 p.m. each night of the show, a kids’ craft table will be set up for families to make “piratey” things.  A ticket to the show is required to participate at the craft table. Chateau de Chic will be helping with activities at the table.

The BCT’s 45th anniversary production for Ag Days, “Pirates of Penzance,” opens Aug. 16 and runs through Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Spring Valley Community Center.  Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors 65 and older and for students 18 and under.  Tickets may be purchased at Sunshine Foods in Spring Valley, Chateau de Chic in downtown Spring Valley or online at  There is a $1 discount for attendees wearing an Ag Days button.  For more information, contact