Directed by the Union's founder and artistic director Sasha Regan, the production is the latest in a series of all-male Gilbert & Sullivan productions staged by the Union after HMS Pinafore and The Mikado. It's nominated for Best Off-West End Production in the forthcoming Whatsonstage.com Awards, and the company will be performing at the Awards Concert on 14 February (See News, 2 Feb 2010).
The Pirates of Penzance (or The Slave of Duty), was first produced at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York on 31 December 1879. The London debut followed in April 1880 at the Opera Comique.
The story concerns Frederic, who as a boy was mistakenly apprenticed to a pirate instead of a pilot. Interestingly, Gilbert himself had been captured by Italian brigands at the age of two and then been ransomed for £25. Most of Sullivan's score was written in his New York hotel room. During the work, he famously wrote to his mother saying, "I think it will be a great success for it is exquisitely funny and the music is strikingly tuneful".